2016 ULC Executive Board Award

The ULC Executive Board is pleased to present a special Executive Board Award to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for their outstanding leadership and incredible contribution to public libraries.

Guided by the belief that every life has equal value, the Gates Foundation works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives. In developing countries, it focuses on improving people’s health and giving them the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty. In the United States, it seeks to ensure that all people — especially those with the fewest resources — have access to the opportunities they need to succeed in school and life.

In 1997, Bill and Melinda Gates began their philanthropic work when they created the Gates Library Foundation to bring computers and Internet connectivity into the nation’s public libraries. At that time far less than a quarter of the nation’s 9,000 library systems were connected and providing access to the Internet. Over the next decade, with millions of dollars and dedicated staff, the Foundation made sure that all libraries had computers and Internet connectivity for the public to use.

Understanding the critical importance of technology and the Internet for the public, the Foundation set about investing in the development of Edge, a tool providing the framework and data that enables a library to confidently plan for the technology that meets citizens' needs concerning education, jobs, health and the social connectedness that assures a strong democracy. ULC was honored to be selected by the Foundation as the lead organization for Edge.