Oregon public libraries have received $2.1 million from the Seattle-based Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to provide low-income populations in the state with increased access to computers and the Internet.
Oregon libraries that serve communities at or above the poverty level of 10 percent, as determined by the 1990 U.S. Census, were eligible to apply for funding, and 174 of the state's public libraries will receive money to purchase hardware — including 570 computers, telecommunications upgrades, and technical assistance and training. The grants are part of the Gates Foundation's U.S. Library Program, which works with public libraries to provide access to computers and the Internet to low-income patrons. The foundation has committed a total of $250 million to public libraries nationwide and expects to have provided 40,000 computers to nearly 10,000 libraries in all fifty states by the end of 2003.
"Four out of ten Oregon households do not have access to the Internet," said Jim Scheppke, Oregon State Librarian. "With this extraordinary gift from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation we will be able to increase the number of computers in our public libraries by about 40 percent and better meet the demand for public access to the Internet."