Headlines: November 10th, 1999

A gift of 4m dollars (2.5m pounds) from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will be used to fund 47 new high technology learning centres in deprived areas. The centres, which will be located in areas of greatest need, will be equipped with state of the art hardware and software. The aim is to increase computer access for all people to ensure that no one is left out of the technological advances of the 21st century. The initiative follows discussions between the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Matthew Evans, Chairman of the Government’s Library and Information Commission.Although more than 13 million people in Britain have Internet access and the revenue from e-commerce is set to top 10b pounds next year there are many millions of people who have yet to switch on a computer. Three initiatives involving funding from lottery distributor the New Opportunities Fund, are already seeking to boost information technology use in libraries. They are a 250m pound programme of information technology training for teachers and librarians; a 50m pound project for the digitisation of electronic information to support life long learning and a 200m pound programme to promote community access to life long learning, helping link libraries to each other and to schools.