Cliff Missen leading IMLS-funded project to expand and improve off-line digital education resources for correctional institutions

June 7, 2018

Cliff Missen, Associate Professor at the UNC School of Information and Library Science (SILS) and Director of WiderNet@UNC, has been awarded a $50,000 grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to assemble a coalition of librarians and educators from correctional institutions to further develop and manage a secure off-line platform for correctional education.

Cliff Missen, SILS Associate Professor
and Director of WiderNet@UNC

Missen and the WiderNet@UNC team will bring together stakeholders to create a collaborative platform to engage prison educators and librarians, including staff members and volunteers, in the development of customized libraries and educational resources. Outcomes for the one-year project will include a prototype collection and a blueprint for a long-term effort to improve information access for librarians, educators, and students in correctional institutions. The larger outcome will be a prototype collaborative platform that can be used to build custom collections for a multitude of underserved communities.

“Many communities across America have specific information needs but lack the fiscal, infrastructural, and professional means to organize that information, create accessible digital portals and archives, and deliver the relevant information to their audiences,” Missen said. “However, they can afford do so cooperatively and build collections that have a broader impact beyond their distinct communities. This project aims to develop and demonstrate a cloud-based and off-line platform to ‘crowd source’ the development of community-centric collections.”

WiderNet@UNC is the research and development component of the non-profit WiderNet.  Their Corrections Off-Line Education Platform (COEP), a specialized version of its eGranary Digital Library, is already installed in 25 U.S. prisons. The new coalition will provide strong guidance for WiderNet@UNC's collection development work, Missen said. 


The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 35,000 museums. Its mission is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. Its grant making, policy development, and research help libraries and museums deliver valuable services that make it possible for communities and individuals to thrive. To learn more, visit and follow IMLS on Facebook and Twitter.