Gates Foundation

The Gates Library Foundation Remembered: How Digital Inclusion Came to Libraries

Library patrons using computers

From 1997 to 2018, the Gates Library Foundation (a program of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation) invested $1 billion over 21 years in public libraries both domestically and globally. Its investments have ensured that millions of people around the world have better access to digital tools that can help improve their lives. The program has left a powerful legacy, nothing less than bringing digital inclusion to many thousands of public libraries and their patrons around the world. TechSoup is deeply proud to have had the chance to work with the Gates Foundation to empower public libraries everywhere.

Technology Resources for Libraries from the Gates Foundation Global Libraries Project

A library patron using digital tools while reading a book

Editor's Introduction: The Gates Foundation Global Libraries Project began in 1997 to empower U.S. libraries and expanded in 2000 to include libraries around the world. The project ended this year. The project goal was to ensure that anyone able to get to a public library could reach the Internet, and thus the opportunities it afforded. The foundation provided grants, public access computers, software, training, and technical support to libraries around the world. The project hosted an information-sharing online community called GL Voices, which officially closed on September 14, 2018.

While working with the Gates Foundation on the Global Libraries project, consultant Lindsay Bealko asked technology staff involved in the project what their favorite resources for staying current on library tech issues were. The following resource list is a compilation of their recommendations. We share it here with permission of Lindsay Bealko and the Gates Foundation.

Help the Gates Foundation support libraries

It's not often an opportunity arises to provide the world's largest foundation your thoughts on your work, your field, and the resources your library needs to succeed. The Gates Foundation is asking for your perspective in an anonymous survey that will help them support today's libraries into the future.

Stories + Data = Powerful Message

I spent the last couple of days in beautiful Telluride, Colorado at the R-Squared conference. I'll be blogging about various sessions and ideas over the next week, but thought I would start by sharing a video that was played during the opening session of the conference. Libraries: A Digital Bridge was created by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and is an inspiring 4-minute look at the powerful role computers in libraries play in communities.

Focus on success, not survival.

This morning I was truly fired up after reading fundraising literature and thinking of ways libraries can easily implement many of the ideas used successfully by nonprofits. One thing that was mentioned several times was the importance of not asking for money, but instead sharing stories of people impacted by the organization and then presenting an opportunity to help or contribute to a specific program or project.

Celebrating access to learning: the Arid Lands Information Network

Each year, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation honors a public library or similar organization outside the United States with the Access to Learning Award. This award "recognizes the innovative efforts" of these organizations to "connect people to information through free access to computers and the Internet." We're pleased to report that this year a TechSoup Global partner, the Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN), received this one million dollar award!

Public Access Technology Survey: Deadline Extended

Please complete this survey about the practices you engage in and the challenges you face in maintaining your library’s public access technology.