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Netscape founder, wife donate $170,000 in computers to Pratt Library

This is the central hall of the Enoch Pratt Free Library's central branch.
This is the central hall of the Enoch Pratt Free Library's central branch. (Barbara Haddock Taylor, Baltimore Sun)

A Silicon Valley venture capitalist and his philanthropist wife are donating $170,000 in computers, laptops, printers and other equipment to the Enoch Pratt Free Library, in honor of the library's decision to stay open in the midst of the riots that swept the city last month following the death of Freddie Gray while in police custody.

The Enoch Pratt Free Library announced Wednesday that Netscape co-founder Marc Andreessen and his wife, Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen, phoned the day after the unrest to offer their help.

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"We are deeply touched by this truly generous gift," Carla Hayden, the library's Chief Executive Officer, said in a news release.

"They were one of the first people to contact us after the riots and were eager to support the library even if they were on the other side of the country. They understood the value of libraries as a safe haven for the community."

The Andreessens also have promised to donate computers to Missouri's Ferguson Municipal Public Library.

"This gift is about the extraordinary acts of personal philanthropy we witnessed in Ferguson and Baltimore," Arrillaga-Andreessen said in the release. "The library staff and volunteers went above and beyond to serve their communities.

Roswell Encina, the library's communications director, said that the gift of Hewlett-Packer computers is especially welcome because the demand for them is so great. The equipment, which is expected to arrive next month, will be distributed among all Pratt branches, he said.

"There's always a line of people waiting when we open our doors each morning," he said. "They make a beeline straight for the computers."

In addition, last week the PNC Foundation donated $25,000 to pay for upgrades to the Pennsylvania Avenue branch, and for extended summer programming for children and teens.

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