The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced the expansion of its Global Libraries Initiative with grants to Botswana, Latvia, and Lithuania to ensure that people in those countries have access to the latest information and training available via computers and the Internet.
In Botswana, the effort focuses on planning a national effort to provide no-cost access to computers and the Internet in public libraries and village reading rooms and to create pilot projects in 3-5 sites. In Latvia, the support is targeted for an effort to connect all libraries with high speed and wi-fi Internet connections and to train librarians and library patrons. In Lithuania, the grant funding will help the planning of a national program to provide no-cost access to computers and the Internet in public libraries.
The grants for Latvia and Lithuania mark the first time the foundation has offered support to Eastern European countries.
In the next seven years, the expanded Global Libraries initiative includes plans to partner with 12-15 countries, in a continuing effort to increase access to information and narrow the digital divide.
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, http://www.gatesfoundation.org/.