The Astoria Public Library is going high tech - thanks to the world's richest resident.

Library director Jane Tucker has received word that a grant she sought from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in March has been awarded. The $12,585 grant will help to purchase four state-of-the-art computers that will be available for public use by December. Included with the computers is software, four Spanish language keyboards, a networked printer and technical assistance.

According to Tucker, the U.S. Library Program of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has committed to partnering with public libraries to provide low-income areas with access to technology. The national foundation has awarded grants in excess of $2 million in Oregon.

"We are the epitome of what they're looking for," said Tucker.

The program is designed to serve as a catalyst for government, businesses, foundations and individuals to support public libraries and to provide public access to information technologies, organizers say.

The library's system is bulky and antiquated, Tucker noted. One computer is noisy, slow and prone to "crashing." The new systems will sport less bulky, flat screens and will be faster than the old models.

"This will be a great boost to us," said an excited Tucker, who will be attending workshops to aid with installation, training and the ordering of equipment.

Visitors will be able to check e-mail messages while visiting the coast, and students will be able to surf the Internet for information. The grant is designed to reach those with the least accessibility, and with the software's multiple language capabilities, those needs will now be met, Tucker said.

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