Several years ago, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation gave grants of computer equipment and software to public libraries throughout the United States. The Foundation has maintained an interest in the sustainability of public access computing in libraries, and currently offers grants to support that sustainability through a program called "Staying Connected." The Staying Connected grants are awarded at the state level and can be used, at the discretion of the state library agency, for a variety of purposes, including hardware replacement, training, and technical assistance. California received a grant in excess of $400,000. The State Library delegated responsibility for implementing the grant to Infopeople. A planning group consisting of State Library staff, Infopeople, and local library representatives, met in December 2004 and decided that the first step should be a survey of California public libraries to determine which libraries were most in need of assistance in sustaining public access computing, and what would be useful to the California public library community as a whole in terms of the Staying Connected program. The survey was conducted via the web between February and April 2005. The report of survey results is now available on the Infopeople website at /partners/gates/field_survey.pdf?destination=partners/gates/field_survey.pdf . Significantly, only 16 of the state's 179 public library jurisdictions were identified as being "at risk" in terms of public access computing sustainability. The Planning Group will meet at the State Library on June 21 to decide what the next steps should be.
We have turned on the comments feature of this blog post so that libraries have a mechanism for providing feedback about the report.