Gates Foundation Gives $3.4 Million For Library Broadband

Gates Foundation aims to improve library broadband

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The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have committed nearly $3.4 million in grants to improve Internet connections for libraries in five states.

Nationally, libraries report that demand for high-speed Internet access is growing faster than their ability to provide increased bandwidth. An American Library Association study found that 60 percent of all libraries say their current Internet speed is insufficient.

In addition to the grants, the Gates Foundation is also partnering with 14 states to help public libraries compete for federal broadband stimulus funds.

State libraries in Arkansas ($735,207), Kansas ($363,099), Massachusetts ($367,789), New York ($947,517), and Virginia ($977,468) received foundation funds to develop statewide plans to improve Internet connections in local libraries.

Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Idaho, Kentucky, Montana, North Carolina, Nebraska, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Utah, Vermont, and Washington will participate in the foundation’s new Opportunity Online broadband grant program, which will help libraries develop proposals for federal broadband stimulus funding from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s (NTIA) Broadband Technology Opportunities Program.
"Federal, state, and local government investments in connecting libraries to broadband are important steps toward realizing the vision of universal broadband access," said Jill Nishi, deputy director of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s U.S. Libraries program.

"When libraries have access to broadband, they can effectively deliver critical educational, employment, and government services for residents that lack Internet access elsewhere. As community anchor institutions, libraries can also help drive local broadband adoption."

About 40 percent of Americans don’t have high-speed Internet access at home and the public library is often the only provider of free Internet access available to residents, according to the foundation.

The five states receiving the grants to implement local broadband improvement plans have partnered with the foundation since early 2009.  Arkansas, Kansas, Massachusetts, New York and Virginia were selected to receive the foundation grants because they have a high number of libraries without high-speed Internet access.

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Gates Foundation Gives $3.4 Million For Library Broadband
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  • Susan Larson

    There is a national library crisis, with many libraries facing significant budget reductions resulting in staff and service cuts, and even the closing of libraries. What good will broadband for libraries be without libraries? I’d like to see Bill Gates become the Carnegie of the 21st century and ensure the survival, even prospering, of our nation’s libraries.

  • Nancy Bronez

    I hope municipalities see this as a larger issue than just computer access, but access to information in all its forms. Only Howard County Maryland’s leadership seems to fully appreciate the public library’s educational role in the community. Perhaps Bill Gates can enlighten them the way Carnegie did in his time?
    Equal access to educational materials for all residents of the community is the core role of the free public library.

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