Gates Foundation Makes Grants to Keep Library Computers Current

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SEATTLE (AP) -- The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation on Tuesday announced plans to give $8.3 million in grants to upgrade library computers in 10 states.

Libraries in Colorado, Delaware, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Nevada, New York, Pennsylvania, Utah and Wyoming are eligible for computer hardware grants in this first round in a series of new grants, the foundation said. The money will be targeted toward poor communities.

"Unfortunately, many libraries do not have enough local funding to adequately maintain their technology services," said Jill Nishi, program manager of the foundation's U.S. Libraries Initiative.

She said people who depend on library computers are disadvantaged when their branch can't afford to keep up with new technology.

Organizations in the states will be distributing the grant money and libraries will be required to find matching dollars. Training is required for librarians participating in the program.

More library grants are scheduled to be given out in 2008 and 2009. Libraries in 18 states benefited from the program in 2006. By the time this series of grants is completed, every state will be affected.

To date, the foundation has invested $320 million in grants and other support to install computers in libraries and train staff in all U.S. states and territories. The foundation expects these library hardware program to be its last round of grants to support computer upgrades for U.S. libraries.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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