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Chamber Joins Gates Foundation to Close Digital Divide

Wednesday, February 25, 2004 - 7:00pm

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The United States Chamber of Commerce today joined the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in an effort to encourage public-private efforts to close the digital divide by providing free access to computers and the Internet at local libraries.

"Investment in our communities is an investment in our future," said Thomas Donohue, Chamber President and CEO. "The more people with access to computers and the Internet, the greater the opportunities for them to learn and acquire the tools they need to achieve success."

The Chamber, in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, released a report which shows that patrons use library computers to conduct research, write resumes, keep in touch with family and friends, and complete assignments for school and work.

The report also identified significant challenges faced by libraries in sustaining free Internet access and suggested the private and public sectors work together to ensure that libraries can continue to provide this vital access to technology for years to come.

"We will continue our fight to narrow the digital divide," continued Donohue. "The United States must remain a world leader in information and technology – and we must do more to ensure all our citizens can participate."

The report, "Toward Equality of Access: The Role of Public Libraries in Addressing the Digital Divide," also included support from AARP, American Library Association, Beaumont Foundation of America, Benton Foundation, Institute of Museum and Library Services, Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, and the National League of Cities. The Pew Internet & American Life Project, funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts, served as research advisers.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world's largest business federation representing more than 3 million businesses and organizations of every size, sector and region.

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