The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has announced that the Veria Central Public Library in Greece has received this year's $1 million Access to Learning Award.
The award is presented by the foundation's Global Libraries initiative to libraries and similar organizations outside the United States that provide free access to computers and the Internet. Microsoft, which partners with the foundation to help public libraries connect people to the Internet, will provide the Veria Library with software and technology training curricula.
The library serves the 50,000 residents of Veria and 130,000 people in the surrounding area, serving residents of distant rural villages through mobile libraries equipped with books and laptop computers. The library was an early adopter of many technologies and in 1996 became the first library in Greece to offer free computer and Internet access. It offers resources targeted at children, teenagers, and seniors; computer courses that teach real-world skills such as how to use software, create a resume, share videos online, and participate in social networking; and assistance to help immigrants adjust to their new home. The Veria Library also has formed partnerships with many other libraries, programs, and institutions within Greece and around the world to enable the exchange of experiences and knowledge.
"Our library is about making people's lives easier and better, not just about housing books and information," said Veria Central Public Library director Ioannis Trohopoulos. "We are a small library that is committed to offering modern tools and services to help as many people as possible find new economic, academic, and social opportunities."
“Greek Library Receives $1 Million International Award for Embracing Technology and Creating Vibrant Community Asset.” Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Press Release 8/12/10.