As a Fulbright scholar studying in Nigeria in 1998, WiderNet Director Cliff Missen experienced firsthand the frustrations caused by a lack of Internet access while teaching at the University of Jos.
Together with a University of Iowa graduate student, Missen created the first version of the digital library after requesting that the student send him some web pages on a CD-ROM.
From the first CD, Missen continued to work to overcome digital communication obstacles, eventually placing materials onto a hard drive through a process of copying websites with permission, then uploading materials to a server at partner institutions.
The project, which was a tremendous success, was dubbed the “eGranary Digital Library” because the digital library holds the seeds of knowledge just as an African granary holds the seeds of a future crop.
Since the WiderNet organization began, staff, students and volunteers have worked continuously to deliver educational materials to the 5 billion people worldwide who have inadequate Internet access.
Today the project has installed the eGranary Digital Library at more than 1,000 partner institutions around the world. For more information, including the purchase or development of the eGranary, visit The WiderNet Project.