New York Times. 10/9/96, by Kirk Johnson
Support for Rural and Inner-City Libraries
Bill Gates of Microsoft Corporation, taking a page from Andrew Carnegies drive to help build public libraries across America, is to announce today a program to help connect some of those libraries to the information age. "In the same way that Carnegie built the buildings, Mr. Gates is providing the second wave that will continue the opportunities," said Martin Gomez, executive director of the Brooklyn Public Library.
The program, in which Microsoft will supply $10.5 million in computers, software and technical support to rural and inner city library systems, will begin in New York City at a ceremony with Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. The program is a kind of coming out for Microsoft on the philanthropy stage; it is the companys largest national charitable effort since Mr. Gates founded Microsoft in 1975.
While a few computers in an affluent suburb might not mean much, in places like Frederick, S.D., a town of 300 people that was part of the pilot program and whose library did not even have a telephone, the impact of a new 133-megahertz Pentium-based computer was considerable. "From one month, not even having a telephone, they skipped a century and went directly to having access to the Internet," said the South Dakota State Librarian Jane Kolbe.
New York Times, 10/21/96 by Steve Lohr
A Nation Ponders Its Growing Digital Divide
The Microsoft Corporation supports 215 libraries in low-income urban and rural areas. In the program, Microsoft provides hardware, software and training for libraries, which must pay the telecommunications costs themselves.
"Telecommunications is part of the puzzle, but only one part," said Christopher Hedrick, who heads the library program for Microsoft. "Real technology access for poorer areas requires public and private support."
Library Journal, 10/15/96
Microsofts Libraries Online More than Triples in Year 2
Microsoft Corporation has kicked off the second year of its Libraries Online initiative with the American Library Association (ALA) by more than tripling the number of libraries involved in the project. Through Libraries Online, Microsoft aims to provide public libraries with funding, technology training and software to enable inner-city and rural communities to gain access to the Internet.
Microsoft and ALA launched the project with nine libraries in 1996, with the software giant devoting $4.4 million in cash, training, and software. The "second round" of Libraries Online will see a commitment from Microsoft of more that $10 million going to 32 additional libraries in the united States and Canada, with Ireland also receiving a grant of $50,000, according to Microsofts Senior Program Manager, Christopher Hedrick. Adding in the original nine libraries, which will continue to receive support, Libraries Online is now supporting 42 libraries and the efforts to provide their constituents with access to the nets extensive resources.
Round Two: boofo for Brooklyn
In fact, two of last years pilot libraries, Seattle and Brooklyn Public, have received the second rounds largest grants, according to Hedrick. As the lead library in the Libraries Online project, Seattle will receive funds for the creation of six more community learning centers at various Seattle PL branches and a local high school. Brooklyn, in turn, received a large grant to fund a community learning center at its Grand Army Plaza location. New York Mayor Rudolph Guiliani and Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates helped Brooklyn PL Director Martin Gomez open the center last week amid much fanfare.
Library Journal, 11/1/96 by Evan St. Lifer
Inside Libraries Online
Chris Hedrick, Microsofts senior program manager in charge of Libraries Online had been asked to grade the performance of the initial nine libraries in last years pilot project with ALA. "Many were able to break traditions." Said Hedrick. "This project challenged hierarchies within the library systems as well as staffs confronted with implementing these new services."
In fact, Microsoft Chair Bill Gates has said the project "has surpassed our expectations," a sentiment that Hedrick points to as one of the primary factors behind the aggressive expansion of the Libraries Online participants from nine in the projects pilot year to 41 in 1996/97. Microsofts enthusiasm is based in part on glowing evaluations of the pilot phase, which will be published next month. "The computers are being used to capacity, and the level of satisfaction among patrons has been incredibly high," said ALAs Libraries Online Project Manager Molly Callender, citing data from the evaluations. "Patrons not only said they got what they wanted from the computers but said they would come back and use them again."
Library Journal, 11/1/96 by Evan St. Lifer
Born-Again Brooklyn: Gates Wires the Library
At a raucous New York press conference held at Brooklyn Public Library, October 9, Microsoft Chair Bill Gates and the citys political elite announced the launch of an ambitious online initiative expected to boot strap the 99-year old institution and others like it into the Information Age.
Standing placidly amid a horde of locusts known as the New York media, Gates announced the official debut of Libraries Online. The national program by Microsoft and the American Library Association (ALA) provides low-income communities with access to online infromation by wiring public libraries to the Internet.
Microsoft launched a pilot version of the project with ALA in 1995, giving $4.4 million in cash, software, and training to nine public library systems. This year the project is more than tripling in size, with 32 additional participants joining the initial nine and receiving $10.5 million in grants.
"Todays national launch builds on our vision of information at your fingers by empowering people with access to the Internet and the World Wide Web," said Gates. "Libraries will play a pivotal role as we enter the 21st century in providing access to knowledge and opportunities for everyone."
TIME, August 19, 1996, by Joshua Quittner
"The Web Grows in Brooklyn"
It was last fall that the Microsoft advancement first visited the little library in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn. They came down Flatbush Avenue, past the tropical-colored stalls of mangoes and plantains, past the discount-clothing stores, past the men slapping down dominoes on chipped stoops. They did not dally at the basketball hoop lashed to a tree in front of the library. Unlike some of the kids who played there every day, the Microsoft guys actually went up the steps and inside.
They had come to see whether the Flatbush branch of the Brooklyn Public Library ought to share in a $3 million grant that would wire it to the Internet. Donald Kaplan, who works for the library system, recalls that the emissaries from Redmond, Washington, were dubious: "One of them asked, Will this be like the movie The Gods Must Be Crazy, where a Coke bottle falls out of the sky and no one knows what to do with it?" Kaplan shrugged off the gibe, saying, "No, itll be like the movie Field of Dreams build it, and they will come."
Which is what happened. They came on that opening day in April and they havent stopped coming. Nearly 8,000 people in 3 and a half months signed up for half-hour sessions on the computers. So many folks wait for the library doors to open each morning children as young as two, adults older than Bill Gates parents that the staff had to put down green tape on the floor to mark off a place to line up for a turn on one of the dozen Pentium-chip computers in the Jell-O-blue reading room.
"I come in here almost every day to cruise the Net," says Clifford Granthier, 20. The young Haitian immigrant was among those who used to spend all day on the makeshift basketball court outside the reading room. But as word trickled out that you could find cool pictures of Michael Jordan and the Bulls on the Web, Granthier began spending more and more of his day in cyberspace. His circumnavigations led him to a new interest: desktop publishing. "Im inspired to start my own business," he says.
But how? He doesnt have enough money even to buy a machine. Easy, says Granthier. Hes building his own PC, one component at a time. "I found a site on the Net that shows you how to make one." Who says the gods are crazy?
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