KINGSTON, Jamaica – The Jamaica Library Service (JLS) received a grant of US$2 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation based in Seattle, United States of America, which will, along with co-funding of US$1.1 million from the Jamaican Government, help the JLS to boost Information and Communication Technology (ICT) resources in public libraries.
The funds will also enable JLS to provide additional training for staff and users, enhance programmes and services and support a comprehensive advocacy and marketing campaign.
In July the foundation advised the JLS of the granting of the award for the charitable purpose to enrich lives and ultimately contribute to the achievement of the country’s Vision 2030, Jamaica the place of choice to live, work, raise families and do business.
The ICT project will boost access with the installation of hardware and software, including the addition of approximately 843 state-of-the-art computer systems, as well as provide library staff and users with training. One hundred and twenty seven public libraries and six mobile libraries will benefit from the project.
Education Minister Ronald Thwaites welcomed the award from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation noting that in a new release from the ministry that “the project will facilitate the use of technology to support major social change on the Jamaican landscape through public libraries to impact the areas of education and digital inclusion”.
In his comments, Paul Lalor, Chairman of the Board of the JLS, said that “as the largest single provider of free access to computers and the Internet to Jamaicans, JLS anticipates an exciting three-year implementation period which will not only change the face of public libraries in Jamaica, but also ultimately positively impact the lives of individuals and the development of communities and the country on a whole”.
The announcement of the award by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Global Libraries initiative completes the selection process that began in March 2012 following a letter of interest for Grant Funding sent by the foundation to the JLS.