SIKESTON - Christmas is merrier than usual around the Sikeston Public Library this year and for good reason. Staff members have learned they're going to receive a very special gift.
The library has been awarded a $14,995 grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation with the understanding that the money is to be used to purchase additional computers.
And that's more than OK with Sue Tangeman.
The Sikeston Public Library will use the grant money to purchase four new Internet computers and a file server. The grant also includes allowances for installation expenses, on-site training and technical support from the Gates Foundation. The computers will come with varied software programs which are donated by Microsoft, one of the founding partners of the Library Program.
The grant money is expected to arrive in late spring of 2002. The independent non-profit organization's goal is to provide public access computing in over 11,500 libraries throughout the United States by the year 2003.
Already the project, known as the Library Program, has been completed in 18 states and the District of Columbia. There is currently training and implementation phases occurring in eight additional states. The noncompetitive grant process has been completed in the state of Missouri with plans to complete implementation in 2002.
Tangeman attributes being awarded the grant in part to the generosity of a community that cares about its library and the people it serves.
"One of the features of the grant process was showing how the community has shown support for the library in the past and continues to do so at this time," said Tangeman. "I feel that one of our strongest points was the renovation of the library in 1996, without having to request a tax increase. The community showed its desire to make our library one of its integral parts by their financial support at that time. The community continues to support the library not only financially but by making use of the facility that we have here. We are looking forward to announcing the arrival of the computers and their availability."
The grant works through cooperative relationships between state library agencies, schools of library and information science and local public libraries within a given state.
The first partnership was awarded in October 1997 to the Alabama Public Library Service to act as the pilot program for future state funding.