On September 27 the Colombian Government [launched] the “use and adoption of ICT in the National Network of Public Libraries” project, in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. This project will last 24 months, during which research, needs assessments and pilot efforts to provide connectivity and technology to public libraries in the country will be implemented, alongside the training necessary to allow relevant and useful use of these new services. The project will receive US$ 3.2 million in funding from the Foundation, and it will benefit from a donation of software by Microsoft.
The project is developed under the framework of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation´s Global Libraries initiative of its Global Development Program. The initiative aims to close the digital divide by providing access to information and technologies through public libraries, changing individual lives and strengthening communities. Countries like Mexico, Chile, Poland, Vietnam and Romania, among others, have already benefited from this program.
The Ministry of Culture – National Library and the Foundation recognize that Colombia’s public libraries can play a critical role in all aspects of the country’s social, economic and cultural development. They offer public access to information and knowledge, they promote reading and writing skills, and they enhance the flow of ideas, culture and national heritage.
This project will conduct an assessment and analysis of the conditions required to expand the program to national scale in the near future, while ensuring both sustainability and responsiveness to the needs of the people. This analysis will include pilot projects to test the provision of technology and to strengthen their use and usefulness through training, research and support for the creation of digital content in the public libraries.
According to Deborah Jacobs, Director of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Global Libraries initiative: “The presence of a strong public library network, the committed leadership demonstrated by the National Library, and the ongoing support for public access to technology will all contribute to the successful implementation of this project. This will improve Colombians’ lives, as we have seen happen in other programs around the world. We recognize Colombia’s leadership in development of their public libraries and we believe that our support will have a positive impact.”
Read the Complete Announcement