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Public Information and Communication

For Immediate Release
February 2, 2005

Contact:
Mary Jo Ryan
402-471-3434, 800-307-2665

Nebraska Library Commission Awarded Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation  
"Staying Connected" Grant
 

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation recently awarded $250,960 to the Nebraska Library Commission, supporting efforts to help libraries sustain and improve the quality of public access computing and access to the Internet in Nebraska public libraries. The Gates Foundation will match every dollar of federal, state, and local funds with two dollars. This funding will help public libraries across Nebraska improve technology training for library staff and customers, upgrade to faster Internet connections, and increase access to technical support. Additionally, the Gates Foundation has determined that libraries in three communities in Nebraska (House Memorial Library (Pender), Lynch Public Library, and Walthill Public Library) will receive computer upgrades. These communities were selected by the Gates Foundation using Foundation methodology to determine poverty levels. 

"We are dedicated to supporting local libraries in their efforts to provide the latest in computer technology to their customers, helping open up the world of information for citizens of all ages," Nebraska Library Commission Director Rod Wagner said. This partnership supports public access computing efforts in public libraries by assisting the Nebraska Library Commission with capacity building for developing and maintaining long-term sustainability in public libraries. It builds on previous Gates Foundation support received in 2001. The extremely favorable experience of Nebraska libraries during the previous partnership with the Gates Foundation is illustrated by the following comments:

"The addition of two computers purchased by the Gates Foundation grant, allowed the library to create a computer center for improved public access. The grant also allowed for us to subscribe to a wireless Internet service..."-Broken Bow Public Library

"The most significant change in our library in the past year is the addition of the two Gates Foundation Grant computers... the Gates computers have generated a lot of interest from non-library users..."-Dvoracek Memorial Library in Wilber

"The major success for this past year was the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Grant... brought more library traffic, as the patrons who want to use the computers also check out our collection while they are here."-Grant County Library in Hyannis

"Public libraries are bridging the digital divide across the country, providing high-quality computer and Internet access, training opportunities, and technology tools that help people learn, explore, and create," said Martha Choe, director of the Foundation's Global Libraries program. "Although libraries are connected now to the Internet, it will take all of us-state and local governments, businesses, nonprofits, foundations, and other library supporters-to ensure libraries stay connected."

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As the state library agency, the Nebraska Library Commission is an advocate for the library and information needs of all Nebraskans. The mission of the Library Commission is statewide promotion, development, and coordination of library and information services, bringing together people and information. The most up-to-date news releases from the Nebraska Library Commission are always available on the Library Commission home page, nlc.nebraska.gov, search on Library Commission News Releases.


For more information, contact Mary Jo Ryan.