A grant established by Bill and Melinda Gates to bridge the digital divide by helping libraries serving low-income communities provide Internet access and computer resources to their patrons.

The goal of the Gates Library Program is to provide grants to more than 11,000 public libraries in the U.S. and Canada serving low-income communities; providing training to librarians, and ensuring information access for future generations.


Which libraries in Colorado were eligible for Gates grants?

Refer to the eligibility list  or 

How is this eligibility determined? 

 If a library serves a population that has a poverty level of less than 10%, it would still be eligible for a  partial library building grant.  Libraries that were partially eligible could purchase equipment at the grant price, and receive the technical support that comes with the full grant packages.

What are the guidelines for being eligible for a full grant package?

  • Recognized as a public library by the State Library (refer to:  http://www.cde.state.co.us/cdelib/slpdfdocs.htmfor public library standards
  • Serve a population of 10% poverty based on the 1990 Census data ( updated with 1996 interim data)
  • Have not previously received a grant from the foundation
  • Complete and submit a successful grant application, postmarked by May 25, 2001
  • One representative from each building must attend a BYCA workshop.

Grant Packages: TOP

Eligible Building Grant–Libraries that serve a poverty level of 10% or greater, are eligible for cash grants to purchase computers and software.  All computers must be public access machines.  Typical grant packages consists of one, two, or four computers and laser printer.

Partial Building Grant–Library buildings  that serve a population of less than 10% poverty are eligible to purchase a Gates computer; all the software is donated.

Spanish Language Computer–Libraries eligible for grants may request a Gates Library Spanish Computer in place of any computer in their application.  The Spanish computer comes with pre-installed Spanish language software applications for Spanish-speaking library users.  Information on how to order the Spanish language computers will be available at the Before Your Computer Arrives Workshop, available regionally beginning in early August.

Grant Equipment based on Library Building Service Population (SPOP)
(for libraries serving a population of 10% poverty or greater)

Building Service Population (SPOP):Computer Grant Package
Less than 5,0001 Stand alone computer with preloaded software
HP Laserjet Printer
Internet Hardware and Networking Equipment if needed
5,000-9,9992 Stand alone computers with preloaded software
HP Laserjet Printer
Internet Hardware and Networking Equipment if needed
10,000-34,9994 Stand alone computers with preloaded software
HP Laserjet Printer
Internet Hardware and Networking Equipment if needed
Content (Web) Server
35,0006 Stand alone computers with preloaded software
HP Laserjet Printer
Internet Hardware and Networking Equipment if needed
Content (Web) Server

For more information on how the poverty level served is calculated, refer to:

The Gates foundation has a specific configuration and computer model that comes with several software titles.  Currently, the specs are as follows:

  • Gateway hardware
  • Microsoft Windows NT 4.0
  • Preinstalled software
  • Network Interface card
  • Laser printer

Network Issues:  TOP

My library does not use Windows NT for networking.  Will the Gates computers be compatible with my existing network?

The Gates foundation Networking department will work with your staff in making the Gates workstations available on your existing network.  Make note of the networking system your library  uses on your application.  If your Gates computer needs to be connected to a special network such as Marmot or Tripath, indicate this on your application along with the individual the foundation should contact for further technical details.

If you think you might experience problems implementing Gates computers with your existing network, please contact the Gates Networking Department at 888-289-8989

How will the Gates computers be configured on my existing network?

The IT staff from the Gates Foundation that works with your library to install the grant computers has worked with different network operating systems such as Novell and Unix.  However, the more technical details you can supply on the application form, the better.

My library has a dedicated internet connection, but it is solely used for the automation system.  Our public and staff  internet access  is through a dial up connection.  Can we get help setting up a dedicated Internet line for public access?

Yes, given you are fully eligible for a grant (your library building serves a population of 10% poverty or greater), Gates will pay for reasonable first time installations.  This may include items such as routers, hubs, and a wiring supplement.

My library has dial up, ISDN or no Internet access, can we still receive a computer grant?

If you are fully eligible for a grant, Gates will pay for reasonable first time connection fee installations.  This may include items such as routers, hubs, and a wiring supplement.

Training Labs: TOP

Which libraries in Colorado received training labs?

  • Aurora Public Library–North Branch Library
  • Durango Public Library
  • La Veta Public Library District
  • Limon Memorial Library
  • Longmont Public Library
  • Rio Grande Library District (Carnegie Public Library) in Monte Vista
  • Sterling Public Library
  • Southern Teller County Library District-Franklin Ferguson Memorial school/public Library
  • Weld Library District–Lincoln Park Branch

What is a typical training lab package?

11 Workstations, Content server, Laser printer

What are the criteria for receiving a training lab?

  • Library building in which lab is located must serve a population of 10% poverty or greater according to Gates (this is the SPOV # on the eligibility list
  • Support library’s on-going need to train library staff in the use of new and changing information delivery tools such as the Internet, search engines, and electronic reference collections.
  • Used also to support patron-focused courses on the Internet and electronic databases
  • When not used for training purposes, labs must be open for public access computing
  • The Gates Foundation can use the lab as it continues with follow-up training for staff
  • Space for 11 additional computers and a server connecting to the Internet
  • The Labs must can be used in cooperation with libraries in the immediate geographical area and with the state library in offering a broad range of training for the public library community
  • Labs should have a minimum 128k connection and preferably one that can be upgraded
  • If the lab boosts the library’s pc’s up to 20 or more, they should consider a 256k minimum connection.

How do I apply for a training lab?

Directors of eligible library buildings will receive a memo that outlines the criteria necessary to apply for a Gates computer lab.  Colorado is eligible for nine computer labs that should be geographically dispersed throughout the state.  It is preferable to place a lab in at least one eligible library building in each regional system.   

The State Library will narrow the list of candidates for labs down to nine that best meet the criteria.  Those nine candidates will apply for a lab just as the other grant applicants.  Labs will be installed at the same time as the other computer grants.


Do I need to Filter Gates Computers?  

Gates does not require filtering on grant computers, nor do they prohibit it.  Refer to your local library policy in regards to filtering.

If you need further explanation, please review the Gates Library Program site, or for local information contact Rose Nelson at the Colorado State Library (303) 866-6946, or nelson_r@cde.state.co.us

What are some other Gates Grant Issues? TOP

Libraries that serve a population of over 100,000 were invited to send a limited number of staff  to Information Technology and a Training Strategies class in Seattle in September and October.  During one of the training sessions, staff discussed the main concerns regarding the Gates Grants.  The following is a list of these concerns.  Can you think of any others? Please email nelson_r@cde.state.co.us if you have other issues to include.

  • Will patrons expect all the library computers to contain the same software as the Gates machines?
  • Some of the software may include “quirks” or things that don’t work perfectly well.  How will libraries deal with the “quirks” further down the road?
  • The Gates foundation allows certain reference titles to be shared on up to ten additional machines.  How can we discourage staff not to take advantage of this offer and illegally load this software on their machines?
  • How can we monitor misuse of lab?  For example, some patrons may take advantage of the extra storage provided on the ZIP drives and download inappropriate pictures or other content?
  • Some libraries have purchased privacy screens which makes it difficult for passerby traffic to view what patrons are doing on the computer.  This method has been successful, but privacy screens can be pricey.  How can libraries afford privacy screens for all  the Gates computers? 
  • How will the Gates lab, in particular affect staffing levels at the library?  How do libraries afford the extra staffing for the Gates labs?
  • The Gates computers may bring up print management issues.  How will libraries deal with these extra complications such as releasing print jobs and scheduling software.
  • What do we do with those patrons who know just enough to be dangerous?

Subscribing to the Gates Grant Listserv:

The Gates grant listserv is a local list for Colorado libraries to discuss all kinds of Gates computer issues  from technical support, to success stories to publicity to  tips and tricks for using the computers.  

  • Send an email message to info@cclsweb.org
  • Leave the subject line blank.  
  • In the body of message type: subscribe gatesgrants-l  (letter “l” not number “1”)

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