David Rothman writes "Suppose Andrew Carnegie had promised to give away steel, not libraries. Metaphorically that's the position that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is in.
Microsoft earns its money off knowledge-related products ranging from software to books and photographs--in many cases, the very stuff that public libraries ought to make available for free. Given libraries' inevitable clashes with Microsoft's corporate goals, isn't it time for Bill Gates to spin off an independent foundation created especially with libraries and schools in mind? Mightn't he continue his present library efforts but experiment with allowing some self-created competition? Just consider the library-related possibilities in areas such as a universal e-book format and open source, which could lead to thriftier, more effective libraries and maybe even technology beneficial to Microsoft in the long run.
Such questions come to mind in the wake of a pie chart in the Nov. 11 edition of the Chronicles of Philanthropy. It shows that the Gates library initiative has received just 3.3 percent of some $7.2 billion that Bill and Melinda Gates have given away since 1994. Why are libraries such a low priority in the Gates cosmos despite all the comparisons of the software mogul with Carnegie? Just why are libraries getting just a few crumbs, relatively, from the Gates Foundation's $27 billion endowment? More at TeleRead."