Simonyi Fund for Arts and Sciences gifts $3 million to The Seattle Public Library Foundation
Charles Simonyi bestowed a $3 million gift to The Seattle Public Library Foundation today that will help fund construction of the new Central Library. In recognition of Simonyi's gift, the Mixing Chamber - the library's "trading floor for information" - will be named the Charles Simonyi Mixing Chamber.
"The Seattle Public Library is the one place the public, business and government can depend on for accurate, timely information, lifelong learning opportunities, intellectual stimulation and cultural enrichment," Simonyi said. "The brilliant new glass and steel Central Library will assure its future as a key information resource for the city."
The donation comes from Simonyi's newly formed foundation, the Charles Simonyi Fund for Arts and Sciences. Simonyi is a former Microsoft developer who led the team that created Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel. Known as "the father of Microsoft Word," Simonyi left Microsoft last year to create his own company, Intentional Software Corp., which is working to improve software productivity.
"Residents will come to know and expect a new level of excellence in libraries," said Library Board President Greg Maffei. "New buildings, strong services and updated collections help our city flourish and grow."
In the Mixing Chamber, librarians will serve patrons as a team to address research questions, providing a new model for reference service. The 19,500-square-foot area eliminates the need to visit multiple floors of the library for different reference needs. The Mixing Chamber will house 132 computers; the largest configuration of technology in one spot within the facility. The library's Quick Information Center also will be located on this floor.
Librarians will have nearby access to extensive reference collections and electronic resources, as well as equipment that quickly delivers materials to the Mixing Chamber from the Books Spiral. Staff members in this area will be equipped with wireless communication devices, allowing them immediate contact with librarians in the Books Spiral when additional expert assistance is needed.
With the Simonyi gift, The Seattle Public Library Foundation comes closer to achieving its $16 million private fund-raising goal for the Central Library, which is budgeted at $165.5 million. The majority of funding for the new library is coming from a 1998 voter-approved bond measure.
"We are extremely grateful for this very substantial and generous contribution," said City Librarian Deborah L. Jacobs. "The new Central Library is designed to improve service to patrons and inspire civic pride and community spirit. The life of the mind should be, must be housed in the best of all possible buildings."
The new Central Library, designed by OMA/LMN Architects, will open to the public at 11 a.m. Sunday, May 23.
For more information contact:
Andra Addison, communications director
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