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Tech Industry

Gates donation one for the books

A week after Oracle's Larry Ellison got lots of good press giving away Network Computers to schoolchildren, Microsoft's Bill Gates says he will give $10.5 million in software to 41 public library systems.

A week after Oracle's Larry Ellison got lots of good press giving away Network Computers to schoolchildren, Microsoft's (MSFT) Bill Gates today announced plans to give $10.5 million in software to 41 public library systems in the United States and Canada.

Gates's contribution will help extend Libraries Online, a pilot program the company started last October with the American Library Association.

Ellison posed with cute kids, computers, and Republican vice presidential candidate Jack Kemp, but the grand Gates chose a Brooklyn public library, part of the nation's fifth-largest library system, for his photo opportunity. The Microsoft program is scheduled to wire all 60 of Brooklyn's branch libraries by the year 2000.

New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and Brooklyn Borough President Howard Golden were also on hand to add over $5 million in public funds to the $2.2 million Microsoft will donate directly to the Brooklyn library system. The donation to the libraries around the country will be distributed in the form of cash, software, and technical assistance.

"Libraries will play a pivotal role as we enter the 21st century in providing access to knowledge and opportunities for everyone," Gates said.

Libraries and schools could also provide Microsoft and Oracle with opportunities to cement user loyalty among educators and young users while promoting their visions of the future of computing, as Apple Computer did in the early 1980s.