Microsoft's Bill Gates Announces $1 Million Technology Donation To Benefit District of Columbia Public Library.
D.C. Joins $17 Million Libraries Online Initiative Designed to Expand Public Access to the Internet and Multimedia Personal Computers Through Public Libraries.
WASHINGTON, D.C. - June 4, 1997 - Microsoft Chairman and CEO Bill Gates today announced a $1 million donation of cash, software and technical support to the District of Columbia Public Library System, bringing the Internet and multimedia software to neighborhoods across the city. Gates was joined at the Martin Luther King Memorial Library by Washington Redskins star and education advocate Darrell Green and other community leaders.
The centerpiece of Microsoft Corp.'s donation is a technology grant to create an Internet Center at the Martin Luther King library. Part of Microsoft's more than $17 million international Libraries Online initiative, the gift will help to bring the Internet to Washington, D.C. libraries and provide software and interactive media titles for all branches throughout the District of Columbia. In addition, Microsoft will provide computer hardware, technical assistance and support for the library system. Microsoft's assistance will continue as the District of Columbia's information technology plans grow.
"The public library system in our nation's capital is an important institution benefiting a broad cross-section of the community, and Microsoft is proud to join the District in expanding access for everyone to the PC and the Internet," Gates said. "In communities around the world, we see how the PC can be a powerful tool that opens doors to learning and opportunity. Our hope is that these technologies will help to empower young and old with the information and tools they need."
"I am delighted that Bill Gates and Microsoft have chosen to invest in the District of Columbia Public Library," said Acting Director Mary Raphael. "The generous donation from Microsoft will help to bring the District into the 21st century by empowering our community with the technological tools necessary for intellectual growth - especially in our young people. This is a tremendous service Microsoft is providing."
"Preparing for the future is critical, whether you're an athlete, entrepreneur or student," Green said. "It's a competitive world, and the PC can be such an important tool for education, business and life. Providing kids access to tools for meeting life's challenges has been a focus of mine for many years through my own foundation. It's wonderful that Microsoft and Bill Gates are investing in the education of kids and others here in the District through the public library."
During his tour today of the library's new PC and Internet lab, Gates spoke with some of the young and older library users who will take advantage of the Libraries Online effort.
"Without computers, I wouldn't have access to so much great information," said Spillman Truhart, a sixth grader from Bunker Hill Elementary School. "Before our library was wired, it was a lot harder to find what I was looking for - it took a very long time. Now, I just type in a word and it pops up!"
Microsoft's Libraries Online effort has provided much-needed cash, software and technical assistance to library systems in rural and inner-city communities nationwide to help ensure public access to the Internet and multimedia personal computers. Working with the American Library Association and the Technology Resource Institute, Microsoft is assisting 260 communities in 43 library systems in the United States and Canada.
The D.C. Public Library was established in 1896 as an independent city agency. It operates the Martin Luther King Memorial Library (the city's downtown central library), four regional libraries, 17 neighborhood branch libraries, four smaller community libraries, a kiosk and a bookmobile service to senior centers. The library has 1.85 million books and 404,000 titles.
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (NASDAQ "MSFT") is the worldwide leader in software for personal computers. The company offers a wide range of products and services for business and personal use, each designed with the mission of making it easier and more enjoyable for people to take advantage of the full power of personal computing every day.
© 1997 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved. Legal Notices.
Company Announces Gift Worth $1 Million to Provide Internet Access
By Vernon Loeb and Elizabeth Corcoran, Washington Post Staff Writers
WASHINGTON DC, June 5, 1997 -- Ellen Kardy has done her best cobbling together a ragtag system of donated personal computers at the Mount Pleasant branch library, but she still talks of Internet access as though it were some far-off technological advance.
"We do the best we can," Kardy says. "If it weren't for encyclopedias, we'd be dead."
Imagine her elation yesterday as she got a glimpse of the future at the D.C. Public Library's flagship facility, the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, where a room full of schoolchildren surfed the Net on 16 state-of-the-art computers. And she wasn't the only one beaming.
Leaning over the children's shoulders was a slightly rumpled man who seemed charmed by the things they were doing in cyberspace.
"Do you do your homework on the computer?" asked Bill Gates, chairman and chief executive of Microsoft Corp.
"Yes," said Spillman Truhart, 12, a sixth-grader at Bunker Hill Elementary School. "Especially reports."
Gates had come to formally announce that Microsoft was donating $1 million worth of computers, software and technical expertise as part of a technology initiative designed to link Martin Luther King and all 26 branch libraries in the District to the Internet within a year.
But his brief inspection tour of the newly installed computer laboratory gave frontline troops such as Kardy something even more precious: reason for hope.
Gates's announcement could not have come at a better time for a system whose fortunes have faded steadily with every annual budget cut -- and may now be at rock bottom.
The D.C. financial control board recently cut the system's $21 million budget by $1.5 million -- a reduction the D.C. Council rescinded in its budget passed Tuesday. If the control board gets its way, as it typically does, according to Molly Raphael, the library's interim director, the only way to absorb the shock would be to close branches, curtail operating hours or further slash an already meager book budget.
In that kind of fiscal environment, the library has been unable to fix roofs, repair air conditioners and keep elevators moving, let alone buy personal computers. The library system, in fact, has had no capital budget for years.
Absent the Microsoft donation, libraries could have waited years for a ramp onto the information superhighway.
"He's Santa Claus," Brenda V. Johnson, the system's assistant director of library services, gushed, referring to Gates. "This is truly empowering D.C. We're light-years behind the surrounding counties, and this is providing a vehicle that we would not have been able to afford."
Added Kardy: "Our patrons are going to go nuts when they see we finally have Internet access."
Microsoft's donation comes as part of its Libraries Online! program, which the company began in 1995 by funding nine libraries, including the Baltimore County Public Library. In announcing the donation yesterday at a news conference with Raphael and Washington Redskins cornerback Darrell Green, Gates said Washington's library system is the latest of 43 chosen to participate in the program.
"I like to think that Microsoft saw that this was a place that needed additional resources," Raphael said. "Part of what they wanted to do is help us make that first big step -- because that first big step is expensive.
"I think they're coming forward and saying: `We think the kids in D.C. are important; we think the seniors in D.C. are important; we think it's important that they have Internet access. This is the community they live in, and libraries are the way they get that.' "
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