DUBLIN, Ohio, USA, 14 April 2009—Today, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced a $5 million grant to the OCLC library cooperative to develop a public information campaign that will help public library leaders heighten awareness of the needs of local libraries and increase support for the services they provide during these challenging times. OCLC will pilot the campaign in select areas of Georgia and Iowa starting this summer as well as a limited number of other communities which will be selected later this spring. Later in the year, OCLC will make available community awareness campaign materials and other guides to assist library leaders throughout the country in their efforts to strengthen support for local libraries.
The current economic crisis has led to dramatic increases in library visitation across the nation, as people rely on libraries for free computer and Internet access to conduct job searches, access government services, learn new workforce skills, and use other resources they can no longer afford at home.
The tightening economy has also put library funding—80 percent of which comes from local sources—at risk. Many library systems predict deep state and local funding cuts in 2009, a growing burden for the roughly half of all libraries struggling against declining or flat budgets.
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