Gates Foundation awards TASCHA with 10-year grant to advance public libraries as agents of social change

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has awarded the Technology & Social Change Group (TASCHA) at the University of Washington Information School with a $16 million “legacy” grant to conduct research that will aid the global transformation of public libraries as centers of learning, creativity, and community development. The Gates Foundation announced that at the end of 2018 it will sunset its Global Libraries program after a 20 year, $1 billion investment that improved the lives of over 253 million people in 54 countries. In order to ensure the future strength of the public library field, the Gates Foundation entrusted three legacy partners — the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA), the U.S. Public Library Association (PLA), and TASCHA — with resources to carry forward Gates’ vision for the next decade.

“TASCHA is incredibly honored and humbled to receive this award,” said TASCHA’s Director Chris Coward.

“We are proud of the public library research we’ve produced over many years, and are grateful that the Gates Foundation has recognized the essential role of research in generating the insights and innovations that will continue to advance the library field.”

TASCHA will utilize the $16 million investment to launch a new series of research initiatives in collaboration with the public library field as well as IFLA and PLA. These research initiatives will demonstrate novel ways for public libraries to serve as agents of social change; particularly by leveraging their physical presence in over 320,000 communities worldwide and advances in digital technologies. The partnership with PLA and IFLA offers a direct channel to reach the broader library field.

The investment will also enrich the University of Washington Information School’s educational programs by offering students new opportunities to learn and partake in the research. “The Gates legacy award is a tremendous asset for the University of Washington Information School. It will allow us to attract faculty and students dedicated to improving people’s lives through public libraries, further elevating our profile as a leader in the global iSchool movement,” said Information School Dean Anind Dey.

Contact TASCHA Director, Chris Coward, for additional information.