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Public Information and Communication

November 27, 1996

Mary Jo Ryan,
402-471-3434, 800-307-2665
Diane Gonzoles (402) 471-2244


ASHLAND -- Governor Ben Nelson today announced the beginning of a new partnership with Microsoft Corporation to provide public access to the Internet in 15 rural Nebraska libraries.

Nelson made the announcement at the Ashland Public Library with Ashland native Jeff Raikes, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Microsoft, a worldwide leader in software for personal computers. Ashland is the first site to be selected for the project in Nebraska.

"Our goal is to have access to the Internet in every public library in Nebraska by the 21st Century," Nelson said. "We are excited that the state is partnering with local communities and the Microsoft Corporation to improve access to information for all Nebraskans, regardless of location, age, background or financial situation. That access is not a luxury - it's a necessity and a real key to citizen involvement in government."

"As a native of rural Nebraska, I'm proud that Microsoft's donation will help 15 rural Nebraska libraries offer the resources of personal computer technology and the Internet to their patrons," said Raikes. "Even with just one PC and an Internet connection, a library can help a community take advantage of information and learning resources from all over the world. Microsoft is delighted to be forging this partnership with the Nebraska Library Commission and excited to see its positive contribution to Nebraskans now and in the future."

The Nebraska Library Commission will coordinate the statewide distribution of funds received from the Microsoft's National Libraries Online! program and other sources. As the state library agency, the Nebraska Library Commission mission is statewide promotion, development and coordination of library and information services.

Selection of the other 14 library demonstration sites will be conducted in cooperation with the Nebraska Commission on Indian Affairs, Nebraska's Regional Library Systems and the Nebraska Department of Economic Development (DED). DED's participation includes the Governor's Global Community Initiative Project, the Nebraska Development Network, and the Nebraska Rural Development Commission.

"We are very pleased that Microsoft has selected the Library Commission to direct this partnership," said Rod Wagner, NLC Director. "The Libraries Online! grant will enable the Library Commission to provide computer hardware, software and technical assistance to the selected libraries."

The project will allow customers at the 15 Nebraska libraries to have multimedia PCs at their disposal for access to the World Wide Web, word processing, spread sheets, presentation and graphic design, CD-ROM titles and other software. The Library Commission will support local library staff in offering training and education for new computer users. The computers are expected to be available by March 1997 for public use.

The Microsoft grant will provide cash, software, technical training and support to Nebraska Libraries with an estimated value of $194,000. Microsoft is providing $104,000 with matching funds to be identified.

Based on the success of a pilot program begun last year with the American Library Association (ALA), Microsoft is contributing financial and technical assistance and software to a total of 41 library systems in the U.S. and Canada. The ALA found that users in the pilot program included recent immigrants seeking job opportunities, displaced workers, small business owners, students and families.


The most up-to-date news releases from the Nebraska Library Commission are always available on the Library Commission Home Page. Point your World Wide Web browser to

Nebraska Library Commission
The Atrium, 1200 N Street, Suite 120
Lincoln, NE 68508-2023

For more information, contact Tessa Terry.