Application for 2007 Opportunity Online Hardware Grants

Gates Library Initiative: Opportunity Online Hardware Grant Program Proposal
July 13, 2007

Part A: Contact Information

General Contact Information

Intermediary Organization Name:
New York State Library

Mailing Address:
Cultural Education Center
Albany, NY 12230


Principle Contact/Grant Administrator

Mary Linda Todd

Library Development Specialist II, New York State Library

Mailing Address (if different from the address noted above):
New York State Library
Cultural Education Center, 10-B 41
Albany, NY 12230

Phone: (518) 486-4858

Fax: (518) 486-5254

Email Address: mtodd @


Fiscal Agent (complete if there is a different payee from the intermediary applicant)

Organization Name:
New York State Education Department

Contact Name:
Theresa E. Savo

Deputy Commissioner for Operations and Management Services

Mailing Address:
The State Education Department
Albany, NY 12234

Phone: 518-474-2547

Fax: 518-473-2827

Email Address: tsavo @

Part B: Narrative

The New York State Library, under the auspices of the New York State Education Department, requests a total of $3,621,125 for grants to a maximum of 439 individual public libraries to enhance public-access computing throughout the state. The State Library will distribute grant funds to the individual libraries with the assistance of the state’s 23 public library systems according to the Gates-prescribed timeline for the grant program.

Although public-access computing in New York State has been greatly expanded in recent years with the help of Gates Foundation initiatives such as the Staying Connected Grant Program, New York’s economic and geographic diversity continues to hinder our ability to sustain public-access computing. The communities served by the state’s public libraries range from congested urban neighborhoods with large numbers of non-English-speaking residents to small rural hamlets separated by great distances. Communities at both these extremes often experience significant levels of poverty. Many urban libraries are in disadvantaged neighborhoods and are under-funded at the local level. Many have experienced significant cuts in local funding and face the possibility of further cuts. Many rural communities depend on small libraries with inadequate staffs and collections.

The Opportunity Online Hardware Grants will help these disadvantaged and under-funded libraries reach out within their communities to secure the funding needed to sustain their public-access computing services, not only for the duration of the grant program, but also in the years beyond.

Program Administration

The New York State Library staff member who will administer the Opportunity Online Hardware Grants is Mary Linda Todd, Library Development Specialist II (see contact information in Part A). Ms. Todd is very familiar with all aspects of the grant program, having attended the March 2007 program meeting in Denver. Since that time, she has worked with New York State’s public library systems and individual public libraries to meet the TechAtlas software utility May 11 deadline. Ms. Todd has managed a variety of grant programs, at both the federal and the state levels. She is currently the federal Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) coordinator for the State Library and manages multiple grant programs involving LSTA funds. She has served as the project director for the State Library’s Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) three-year grant program entitled "Making It REAL!" funded through the Laura Bush Librarians for the 21st Century Program. Ms. Todd is currently on the national review board for the "Beyond Words" grant program, administered through the American Association of School Libraries, which grants funds to school libraries destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. Over the last five years, she has served as both a reviewer and a technical advisor to the ongoing federal Literacy Through School Libraries grant program.

Ms. Todd has extensive experience working with Gates Foundation initiatives. Since 2000, she has managed both the Staying Connected I and the Staying Connected II Grant Programs, including the U.S. Library Training Program Grant initiative. She is the coordinator for both of the current New York State Gates Foundation initiatives: the Rural Sustainability Program and the Spanish Language Outreach Program. Because other Gates initiatives will be ending soon, Ms. Todd is available to take on coordination, management and oversight of this new Gates grant program.

Working with a maximum of 439 individual public libraries and 23 public library systems throughout the state will require a significant amount of time dedicated to the Opportunity Online Hardware Grants by State Library staff as well as staff at the library system and local library levels.

Ms. Todd is the leader of the State Library’s Technology and Resource Sharing Services Team in the State Library’s Division of Library Development, a team consisting of three Library Development Specialists, and two other professional staff, as well as a number of library graduate assistants. Ms. Todd will devote .40 FTE of her time and .50 FTE of another Library Development Specialist on her team, in addition to .10 FTE of a web development specialist/listserv administrator and 1.0 FTE of a library graduate assistant. The grant program will also involve time spent by Carol Ann Desch, Coordinator of Statewide Library Services, and Janet M. Welch, State Librarian (a total of .10 FTE), who will promote the program statewide. This brings the total for State Library staff to 2.10 FTE.  In addition to the 2.10 FTE formally assigned to the grant program, several other State Library and State Education Department staff will also be involved in supporting and monitoring this statewide program.

Library staff in the 23 library systems will help to administer the program, assisting a maximum of 439 individual public libraries. Designated system staff members will spend an estimated 10 percent of their time in administering the grant funds and assisting individual libraries with all aspects of the grant program over the three-year grant period. The State Library has been instructed to report the administrative costs for these 23 designated library system staff on the budget sheet under "Direct Personnel.".  However, they are neither State Library staff nor consultants.

The State Library has engaged the services of an experienced consulting firm to provide expert assistance to Ms. Todd in coordinating and managing this large and complex statewide project. The consulting firm principal has prior experience assisting with Gates initiatives and was instrumental in carrying out the successful Rural Sustainability Program. Costs for these consulting services are listed under consulting and professional fees on the attached budget sheet.

Travel costs include travel for multiple State Library staff to make related site visits to participating libraries and to fund travel expenses to the advocacy workshops, if such expenses are not covered by PLA, and the Project Director’s travel to attend Gates Foundation meetings at ALA Conferences. Conference costs include registration fees for two ALA Conferences per year so that the Project Director and other appropriate staff can attend Gates-sponsored meetings.

The New York State Library will administer the Opportunity Online Hardware Grants in partnership with the 23 New York State public library systems for the entire duration of the grant program. In the late 1950s, the New York State Legislature and the Governor authorized the establishment of public library systems in Education Law. Governance and function are established in the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education. Each public library system is governed by a board of trustees. The majority of the 23 public library systems are supported almost entirely by state aid and all are tax-exempt entities.

Each public library system will administer the grant funds awarded to them through the New York State Library, ensuring that their respective participating member libraries receive the amounts determined by the Gates Foundation; certify the program match requirements; and ensure that participating libraries purchase only the computer equipment and peripherals described as eligible in the grant criteria. All activities will be accomplished according to the prescribed grant timeline.

A list of the 23 partnering public library systems and additional information about each of them is available at

Program Participation (i.e., program uptake)

The New York State Library anticipates that 100 percent of its eligible libraries will participate in the Opportunity Online Hardware Grants program, both in year one and in year two of the program.

The Gates Foundation informed the State Library in January 2007 that more than 600 public libraries were originally eligible to participate in the program and were encouraged to run the TechAtlas utility by the May 11 deadline. Upon receipt of that information, the State Library immediately began working with those libraries and their respective library systems, assisting them by providing grant program information and by helping them run the TechAtlas utility. Over the following weeks, some libraries indicated that they were not interested in participating for a variety of reasons, and were therefore eliminated as possible participants. A total of 496 libraries remained interested in participating and ran the TechAtlas software utility.

The 439 libraries currently eligible have shown a willingness to carry out the grant activities so that they will remain eligible for the duration of the entire grant program. These libraries have received information on the match requirements and other required grant activities as well as the Gates Foundation-prescribed timeline.  Immediately after the State Library received funding eligibility after June 15, two documents were sent to each eligible library.  The first document, entitled " Roles and Responsibilities for Eligible Libraries," provided a detailed list of the library’s obligations during their participation in the grant program, detailing such items as the advocacy workshops, submitting the internet funding survey, completing the TechAtlas survey, and supplying both the 25% and 50% match.  The second document, entitled "Memo of Award Acceptance," had libraries certify their grant program compliance by agreeing to the following statement: "I hereby certify that I accept the Gates Opportunity Online Hardware grant.  In so doing, I have read and will fulfill all the responsibilities as outlined in the "Roles and Responsibilities of Eligible Public Libraries" and any additional requirements associated with the initiative." All currently eligible libraries except 5 (whose computers will be reassigned to alternates) have indicated to the State Library that they are committed to completing the grant program.

The New York State Library’s participation in former Gates Foundation initiatives is an excellent predictor of 100-percent participation in the Opportunity Online Hardware Grants program. All of New York’s 23 library public library systems are currently participating in the Staying Connected II Grant Program, as indicated in the original grant proposal. The State Library’s participation goal for the Rural Sustainability Program was 504, and 502 participated, as indicated in the State Library’s recently submitted interim report, and a total of eleven regional workshops were held, four more than the seven required. An additional 20 workshops on the use of the TechAtlas utility were held in Phase 2, training an additional 296 library staff members, and bringing the total participants to 796. The State Library’s currently running Spanish Language Outreach Program has already finished 47 out of the 48 scheduled workshops for 756 people, holding more workshops and involving more library staff than any other state in the program.

The New York State Library is committed to achieving and maintaining this 100-percent participation by dedicating 2.10 FTE of State Library staff time, hiring an experienced and dedicated consulting firm, and enlisting the assistance of a designated staff member at each of the 23 public library systems to work with the individual participating libraries in carrying out each phase of the program.

The State Library anticipates that some libraries will encounter a variety of challenges in completing the program, but the State Library is prepared to devote the time needed to help those libraries successfully meet those challenges. Libraries might encounter staffing changes, both in their director positions and in their library board positions.  In this case, the State Library will ensure that any new staff receives all appropriate grant information and a list of duties still to be done for that particular library and is prepared to spend additional time with such library staff.  Libraries might encounter difficulties in meeting the match requirements.  In these cases, the State Library and the libraries’ appropriate library systems will work with them to identify possible match sources.  Libraries might encounter technical difficulties running the required surveys.  In such cases, the State Library will work with the appropriate library systems so they can help their member libraries complete those surveys by prescribed deadlines and overcome their technical difficulties.  Some libraries will be unable to attend the advocacy workshops in person and in those cases, the State Library will work with the appropriate library systems to ensure that such libraries can participate in an online workshop.


% of eligible libraries participating
in grant program

Phase 1


Phase 2


Communications and Outreach to Libraries

Due to the large number of public libraries in New York State (more than 750 libraries with 1,100 facilities), a network of 23 public library systems exists to serve as resources for their member libraries, providing services, coordination of activities, training for staff and trustees, and communications. The State Library will collaborate with the library systems to administer the grant program, employing the valuable assistance of these partner organizations. The systems will apply to the State Library for grant funds on behalf of their member libraries and disburse such funds to each library according to the Gates Foundation’s pre-determined funding formula. The systems will also certify the required match from each member library, ensuring that grant funds are spent according to grant criteria, and report all required information to the State Library. The library systems will assist their member libraries in running the TechAtlas utility and completing the required ALA-FSU survey as required by the grant timeline.

The State Library will communicate with the library systems directly through a system-designated contact person. In addition, the State Library will communicate with the systems and the individual libraries directly through established listservs—NYLINE-P (for public library system directors and staff) and NYLINE-DPL (for public library directors)—and the State Library will establish a website for the Opportunity Online Hardware Grants program, as it has done for other Gates Foundation initiatives (see The website will contain a list of currently eligible libraries, the program timeline, a list of FAQs, all program requirements, and all applicable required forms (applications, etc.).

Program Requirements and Opportunities

Advocacy Symposium

The State Library has already sent a document "Roles and Responsibilities for Eligible Public Libraries" to all the currently eligible libraries, indicating the requirement to attend either an in-person or an online advocacy training workshop. As the State Library receives additional information about the program requirements, it will convey the information to the eligible libraries through the listservs described above, by posting the information on the project website, and by direct e-mail when appropriate. The State Library has also sent a document "Roles and Responsibilities for Public Library Systems in New York State" to the 23 public library systems and discussed the mandatory advocacy workshop requirement with them. It states that the systems are responsible for encouraging and helping their eligible member libraries to register for and attend the advocacy workshops. The consulting firm hired for this project will also work with the individual libraries to ensure that they meet the workshop requirement.

With the large number of eligible libraries in New York State, we anticipate that workshops will take place in many locations and that libraries will have repeated opportunities to participate in the online version of the workshops. Project management staff will not be able to attend every in-person and online workshop. Therefore, we expect that the Public Library Association (PLA), as the organization responsible for organizing and presenting the workshops, will devise an online registration process including an administrative module. The module will track actual attendees and other useful information, similarly to the administrative module that was created as a monitoring tool for the TechAtlas process. In that way, the public library systems and the State Library will be able to monitor attendance progress and contact libraries as needed.

Local Match Requirement

As previously stated, the State Library will partner with the 23 public library systems to administer the grant program. The public library systems will ensure that their participating libraries adhere to the match requirement for each year and obtain certifying information from each library about the matching funds. Ms. Todd, Project Director, will collect this information from each library system and convey it to the Gates Foundation according to its prescribed timeline and format. The State Library will communicate all current information on the match criteria to the library systems and answer their questions so that they can best assist their participating member libraries. Match criteria will also be posted on the project website and disseminated through the listservs mentioned previously to ensure that the information is immediately accessible to all participating libraries.

Because New York State’s public libraries serve communities of such geographic, cultural, and economic diversity, the State Library cannot anticipate all the challenges some libraries might face in achieving their required match. (see a more detailed list of challenges under previous "Program Uptake" section)  Many library directors in the state’s public libraries are not certified librarians, work in part-time positions, and may lack fundraising expertise.  It is hoped that the advocacy workshops will be a useful training tool.  However, the State Library does not see this as a problem for the majority of participating libraries.  Because the state aid that public libraries receive is only a small percentage of their total budget, many have already created supportive community partners. The majority of the libraries eligible for this grant program have participated in the Gates-funded Rural Sustainability Program, which helped them to develop action plans for reaching out into their communities and creating financial partners. Many of these same libraries also participated in the Gates Foundation Spanish Language Outreach Program, which further strengthened their ties with their diverse communities.

Configuration and Installation

New York State’s 23 public library systems are committed to providing the necessary guidance and support to enable participating member libraries to install and configure their newly purchased workstations according to the Gates Foundation prescribed timeline. Many of the library systems have already indicated an interest in centralized computer and peripheral purchasing to ensure that their libraries receive quality equipment and fair pricing.

FAQs on equipment and peripheral requirements will be posted on the project website and disseminated through the listservs mentioned previously.

Reporting and Evaluation

The New York State Library recognized that the TechAtlas software utility must be run on each public-access computer in each of the individual participating libraries. Because many of these libraries were not familiar with the software, the State Library partnered with the library systems and an expert consulting firm to offer 20 workshops around the state to train library staff to use the software and report the information to the Gates Foundation in its prescribed manner. These workshops were held in March and April of 2007, well before the May 11 deadline. They directly trained 296 people, including library system personnel who then trained other library staff. The information about the online TechAtlas training sessions available through the Gates Foundation was made available to all currently eligible libraries, and many library staff took advantage of those training opportunities.

The State Library has retained an experienced consulting firm to help libraries meet the TechAtlas requirements for the duration of the grant period and will post any appropriate helpful information on the project website and on the listservs. The public library systems have also agreed to assist their member libraries as needed. It will be helpful if the Gates Foundation continues to offer online TechAtlas training for the duration of the grant period; in that case, the State Library will convey the information to all currently participating libraries. The State Library will also sponsor additional hands-on TechAtlas training workshops if needed.

The State Library will work with the public library systems to ensure that the required ALA-FSU Internet and Public Funding survey is completed by each participating library according to the Gates Foundation prescribed timeline. We hope that the Gates Foundation will configure this survey similarly to the TechAtlas utility so that administrative accounts can be set up for each library system. In that way, the systems can monitor their individual member libraries’ progress in completing the survey and the State Library can monitor progress made around the state in meeting this requirement.

Part C: Implementation Plan and Timeline

Due to the large number of participating libraries in New York State, the State Library does not anticipate an early completion date of the mandatory timeline activities. The State Library must also comply with the fiscal laws, regulations, policies, and processes dictated by the New York State Education Department, the New York State Division of the Budget and the New York State Comptroller’s Office, which may have an impact on proposed timeline completion dates.

Also, the State Library has no definitive information regarding the mandatory advocacy workshops at the time of writing this proposal. Therefore, the indicated completion date set by the Gates Foundation is the only date that can be used.

New York State Library Proposed Implementation Plan


Phase One

Phase Two

Gates Foundation grant funds are disbursed to the New York State Library (deadline determined by Gates Foundation)



Applications are available to eligible libraries



State Library provides final list of participating libraries to Gates Foundation



Applications are due to State Library with documented local match commitment



Funds are disbursed by State Library to participating libraries



Advocacy training is completed by participating libraries



Workstations are installed by libraries



Post-installation TechAtlas inventories are complete



Libraries complete ALA-FSU survey


12/31/08 and 12/31/09

Reports to Gates Foundation are due, with confirmation of fulfilled grant requirements by participating libraries



Part D: Grant Applicant Eligibility and Certification

Purpose:  The purpose of the U.S. Libraries Opportunity Online hardware grant program is to support computer hardware upgrades in public libraries that serve communities with high concentrations of people living in poverty, and in libraries where computer hardware is vulnerable to becoming obsolete. 

Disbursement of Funds:  Funds will be granted to the intermediary (grantee) to be disbursed to eligible and participating public libraries (sub-grantees) within the established guidelines of the Opportunity Online hardware grant program.

Eligibility Standard: To be eligible for the Opportunity Online hardware grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, an intermediary must qualify as a public charity that is exempt from Federal income taxation under section 501(c)(3) of the Code or as a government entity under sections 170(b)(1)(A)(v) and 170(c)(1) of the Code, qualifying as a Federal, State or local government unit, or a political subdivision thereof. 

This special grant is not an open or competitive program. Applicants must be invited by the Foundation to participate.

Fiscal Agent:  If an intermediary wishes to have another entity (a "fiscal agent" or "agent") receive and disburse grant funds on its behalf for financial or administrative reasons, such fiscal agent must itself qualify as a public charity that is exempt from Federal income taxation under section 501(c)(3) of the Code or as a government entity under sections 170(b)(1)(A)(v) and 170(c)(1) of the Code. The role of such fiscal agent will be to disburse grant funds solely in the manner specified by the intermediary; at all times, the intermediary will be responsible for determining how, when and to which libraries grant funds are to be disbursed by the agent, and for ensuring that the agent correctly disburses such funds.

In making this application, we certify that:

  • The information provided in this application is complete and accurate to the best of our knowledge.
  • We understand, and will fully comply with, the Grant Rules and Requirements.
  • We understand there may be costs associated with receiving a grant that are not covered by the grant. These expenses may include, but are not limited to, staff, construction/renovation, furniture, materials, supplies, ongoing telecommunication costs, and non-granted hardware and software.
  • Any fiscal agent used to disburse grant funds has entered into a written agreement with the intermediary to disburse such funds solely in accordance with the instructions of the intermediary.

It is our role to ensure that sub-grants will be made only to public libraries that:

  • Are eligible for participation in the Opportunity Online hardware grants, based on the poverty and hardware criteria established by the Foundation.
  • Provide direct access to computers for public use, and will operate and administer the computers and Internet access without charges or fees to library patrons.
  • Meet the established grant requirements including documented, verified and timely compliance with the matching requirement, and timely participation in the TechAtlas inventory process and ALA-FSU Internet and Public Funding survey. 
  • Will ensure that foundation matching funds will be added to other current and anticipated local library funding and will not replace or supplant the existing or budgeted library funds.
  • Will ensure that foundation matching funds will be added to other current and anticipated technology funding within a library’s budget and will not replace or supplant the existing or budgeted technology funds.
  • Will ensure that all computers and peripheral equipment acquired with grant funds receive proper maintenance and are kept fully operational.
  • Will ensure that adequate public funding is provided for eventual replacement of the equipment. 


Organization Name:

State Librarian/Executive Director:

Name (print):




About the Initiative
State Partnership Grant
Library Training Program Grant
Staying Connected 1
Staying Connected 2
Rural Library Sustainability Project
Spanish Language Outreach Program

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Last Updated: February 26, 2014