PORT HENRY The Sherman Free Library has become eligible for a $7,800 grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to replace and add public computer workstations for its patrons. The foundations Opportunity Online hardware grant program is designed to help the library provide free access to computers for library patrons long into the future. Jackie Viestenz, Sherman Free Library director said, Many people in our community dont have their own computers. The library provides access to the internet for these residents. The Sherman Free Library is required to match the funds given by the Gates Foundation with $1,950 of its own funds. These matching funds will come from money raised by the librarys annual appeal. Anyone wishing to contribute towards these matching funds can do so by sending a check to the library. While nearly all public libraries now offer free computer and internet services, 40 percent report that they are not able to successfully maintain quality technology services for their patrons. Bill Bryant, Sherman Free Library board president, said, Our current funding is only adequate to provide the basic services that we can offer. Through contributions from the public we are able to access such grants to further enhance the librarys services to the communities. The grant will also provide a special professional development symposium for local library staff. The symposium will give library professionals the skills they need to build partnerships, work with their local leaders and reach out to their communities to secure stable funding and services. The Opportunity Online hardware grant program is offered by the Gates Foundations U.S. Libraries in partnership with the New York State Library, which seeks to help libraries maintain quality, free access to computers and the Internet for people in need. According to the foundation, this will be its last grant program to support libraries with vulnerable computer services. More information about the foundation can be found at: www.gatesfoundation.org.