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For the week of Apr. 5 through Apr. 11, 2000

Carey library narrows digital divide

Express Staff Writer

Carey’s Little Wood District Library, which still uses a card catalog, took a major step towards closing the digital divide recently, after receiving a hefty technology grant from the Gates Foundation.

The foundation is a philanthropic organization established by computer mogul Bill Gates and his wife, Melinda, to promote increased access to technology for people throughout the country

At nearly $8,000, the grant will go toward purchasing two public-access PC workstations—one English language, one Spanish language—and paying for connectivity costs, peripheral hardware and staff training.

The Carey library was one of 85 libraries statewide to receive grants from a $1 million fund created by the foundation to bring libraries, mostly in rural areas, up to speed with information technology.

"Large parts of rural America are losing out because they lack the skills to access digital information," said state librarian Charles Bowles in a statement. "As we gain speed on the Internet, people will need those skills to find jobs, to develop businesses and to participate in the democratic process."

Carey librarian Mary Bowman said in a telephone conversation Monday that she expects students from the neighboring Carey School to use the new computers extensively to research school projects.

Also, she said she plans to distribute flyers to encourage the Spanish-speaking community to use the Spanish-language machine.

"We’re really small, but I think we have a really good library here," Bowman said. "The majority of people do have Internet access. There are those who do not. These are the people who Bill Gates is after."

Statewide, the awards ranged from $50,000 for the Boise Public Library to $4,500 for the tiny Rockland Community Library in southeast Idaho.

Libraries serving areas with a poverty rate of at least 10 percent were eligible for the grants. The poverty rate in the Carey library’s service area is 11 percent, according to Bowman.

Bowman plans to have the machines up and running by early August.


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