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Kevin A. Gray
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keagray@indiana.edu
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Diane J. Squire
SLIS
djsquire@indiana.edu
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Last modified: Tuesday, December 11, 2001

IU and Gates Foundation bring computers to Indiana libraries

Poorest communities to benefit

Six graduate students in Indiana University's School of Library and Information Science (SLIS) are helping bring computer access to 185 public libraries in some of Indiana's poorest communities.

As interns with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation's U.S. Library Program, the students are spending about 20 hours per week installing computers, purchased with funds provided by the Gates Foundation, in libraries throughout the state. In addition to installing the computers and accompanying software, the students are training the local librarians in the use of the new equipment.

IU was chosen to partner with the Gates Foundation in this project because it is home to the state's only graduate library program that is accredited by the American Library Association. Last April, Amy Carter, a representative of the Gates Foundation, visited Bloomington to present the ambitious plan that will conclude in spring 2002, and to search for six students.

After 25 candidates were interviewed, six SLIS graduate students were chosen to participate in the program. In exchange for their service, the students receive academic credit and the Gates Foundation pays their tuition.

"Knowledge is power and libraries represent the free exchange of knowledge, which empowers citizens and communities," said Dan Amonett, a doctoral student in information science and Gates Foundation intern. "I hope that the work we do through the foundation will enhance the libraries' abilities to serve their patrons and expand horizons."

The Gates Foundation plans to spend $5.8 million to provide computers, software and training to the libraries. In order to qualify for this funding, libraries must serve communities in which at least 10 percent of the residents live in poverty. The Gates Foundation also is providing an additional 201 libraries in other communities with free software and training.

"This partnership is supporting the network of educational and cultural institutions that has helped citizens for over a hundred years -- our public libraries -- while allowing our students to gain valuable hands-on experience that will benefit them in their future professional endeavors," said IU Professor Danny Callison, the interns' faculty adviser.

To read more about the interns' experiences, log onto http://www.homepages.indiana.edu/091401/text/interns.html