Microsoft’s Bill Gates Announces $1 Million Technology Donation To Benefit District of Columbia Public Library

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.

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