Contact: Guy Lamolinara, Library of Congress (202) 707-9217; Rick Aspan, Ameritech (312) 364-3570

April 18, 1996

Ameritech Donates $2 Million to Library of Congress To Establish Digital Grant Competition

First-Ever Grants to Broaden Access to American Treasures via Internet

Ameritech Corp. and its Ameritech Library Services subsidiary announced today a partnership with the Library of Congress to establish a grant program through which selected libraries across the United States can digitize their unique Americana collections for incorporation into the Library's National Digital Library (NDL) Program.

The Ameritech Foundation will make a $2 million gift to establish the Library of Congress/Ameritech National Digital Library Competition. It is the largest corporate donation to the NDL program to date and is the first effort to make unique collections from libraries across the U.S. on-line via the Library of Congress to millions of children, students and others.

The goal of the Library of Congress's NDL program is to make freely available over the Internet approximately 5 million items by 2000, in collaboration with other institutions. Ameritech's contribution will help the Library meet that goal by being the first to provide funds to libraries and other institutions to aid them in the critical, yet expensive, task of digitizing their unique collections, so they can be available to anyone with World Wide Web access.

"This grant program will vastly multiply the educational impact of bringing together important historical documents on specific subjects formerly dispersed among institutions across the country," said Librarian of Congress James H. Billington. "We are grateful to Ameritech for helping to make a reality the truly national nature of our digital library effort."

The Library of Congress is the world's largest library, with more than 110 million items, including the papers of 23 U.S. presidents. Its collections are in nearly every language and format -- from Chinese woodblock prints to compact disks. Founded in 1800 to serve the reference needs of Congress, the Library has grown into an unparalleled treasure house of knowledge and creativity.

The NDL Program places rare collections of Americana on-line and available to millions, on-line, where previously they were available only by visiting the Library of Congress in Washington. Digitization also aids in preservation by reducing the number of times original materials need to be handled by researchers.

"The dream of linking all people to information and creating libraries with no limits is now a giant leap closer to reality," said Richard C. Notebaert, Ameritech chairman and chief executive officer. "This is the most significant and far-reaching charitable campaign Ameritech has ever undertaken. Our efforts literally will bring thousands of American treasures from across the United States into libraries, homes and schools everywhere for millions to enjoy and cherish."

The $2 million grant is the largest single contribution ever made from the Ameritech Foundation. Complete details of the new Library of Congress/Ameritech National Digital Library Competition and how libraries and other institutions can apply for the grants will be announced soon.

"The Library of Congress/Ameritech National Digital Library Competition is a milestone in the drive to make our nation's treasures accessible to all Americans," said House Speaker Newt Gingrich. "This joint Library of Congress/Ameritech effort is making American History come alive and literally places it at the fingertips of children, students and adults everywhere.

More than a dozen of the Library of Congress's unique American history collections are now available from its homepage at http://www.loc.gov/. Last month, five collections were added, including documents of the Continental Congress, African American pamphlets relating to slavery and civil rights, and daguerreotypes of Abraham Lincoln and Zachary Taylor, including the earliest known photographic images of the U.S. Capitol and White House. These newly-digitized collections will join early motion pictures, sound recordings of American political leaders and selected notebooks from Walt Whitman and other treasures that are already available.

The National Digital Library Program at the Library of Congress is funded mostly by private donations, with support from the U.S. Congress. This public-private partnership is enabling the Library to share its rare American treasures nationwide. So far, the Library has raised more than $21 million in private funds, and Congress has pledged $15 million for fiscal years 1996-2000.

Ameritech, one of the world's largest communications companies, helps more than 13 million customers keep in touch. The company provides a wide array of local phone, data and video services in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin. Ameritech (http://www.ameritech.com (external link)), is creating dozens of new information, entertainment and interactive services for homes, businesses and governments around the world. One of the world's leading cellular companies, Ameritech serves almost 1.9 million cellular and 750,000 paging customers and has cellular interests in telephone companies in China, Norway and Poland. Ameritech owns interests in telephone companies in New Zealand and Hungary and in business directories in Germany and other countries. Nearly 1 million investors hold Ameritech shares.

Ameritech Library Services develops and distributes library management systems and information access products worldwide. With headquarters in Provo, Utah, an affiliate office in Evanston, Illinois, and offices in 18 countries, the company serves 3,500 client libraries in 34 countries and is the world's leading provider of library automation software.

NOTE TO EDITORS: Additional information, including fact sheets and photos, on the National Digital Library program is available through the contacts listed above.

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PR 96-54
4/18/96
ISSN 0731-3527

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