Across the world, people in developing countries have access to some of the Internet’s most valuable educational resources thanks to the efforts of UNC School of Information and Library Science (SILS) associate professor Cliff Missen and the WiderNet Project. Recently the WiderNet Project has garnered local and national media attention for its newest initiative, the eGranary Pocket Library.
In March, ChapelBoro.com published the feature “WiderNet Goes Pocket-Sized to Help Millions Worldwide.” Mashable profiled the effort in a story titled “Ironically, offline Internet could help bridge the digital divide.” The Christian Science Monitor explored a similar theme in its online feature “Could offline Internet access bridge the digital divide?” In April, WNCN broadcast a story about WiderNet focusing on the new pocket library. The publicity is helping to strengthen WiderNet’s fundraising campaign on Indiegogo.
Missen launched the WiderNet Project in 2001 after experiencing firsthand the Internet deficiencies in Africa as a Fulbright scholar studying at the University of Jos in Nigeria. WiderNet’s eGranary Digital Library is a server that provides offline access to 32 million videos, documents, and websites, including Wikipedia, Khan Academy, and Project Gutenberg. With installments in more than 1,000 locations worldwide, the eGranary Digital Library is being used to train doctors, nurses, engineers, and more.
The eGranary Digital Library now is designed and developed by WiderNet@UNC, a service project at SILS, and is distributed by WiderNet, a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) nonprofit that focuses on field implementations and training.
The Chapel Hill Public Library will host a celebration of the 1000th eGranary installment and the launch of the pocket library initiative on April 15, 2015, from 6-8 p.m.