The eGranary digital library

Many developing countries have universities, schools, clinics and hospitals with no Internet connection. Those that are connected to the Internet have such limited bandwidth that they cannot offer free web browsing to the majority of their staff and students.  Bandwidth in Africa can cost up to 100 times what it costs in the US, so for some organizations, a slim Internet connection can consume the equivalent of 50 per cent of their operating budget. Even for those who can pay for web browsing, the experience can be frustratingly slow; it can take hours to download a single audio file.

The eGranary Digital Library addresses these issues by moving a large assortment of educational Internet documents onto the subscriber's local area network (LAN) so that the documents can be made available to everyone within the institution freely and instantly.  It stores “the seeds of knowledge" inside the institution where they can be accessed even when there is no Internet connection. In a sense, it embodies the statement, "If you can't come to the web, we'll bring the web to you!"

This is accomplished through the following steps:
  1. Identifying web pages with rich educational content (often guided by requests from African partners);
  2. Asking for copyright permission from the author or publisher to copy materials for educational institutions in developing countries that have inadequate Internet connectivity (eGranary gets a 50 to 90 per cent positive response to these requests);
  3. Storing the materials (without links to annoying advertisement servers) on a disc at the WiderNet Project;
  4. Copying the materials and distributing the collection for subscriber universities by delivering discs and in some cases configuring servers, sometimes using donated computers and software; and
  5. Updating the materials and redistributing discs as time and travel schedules permit (perhaps two or three times a year).
Source: The eGranary Digital Library: How It Works (University of Iowa) .

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