Production & Distribution
Wondering how we get all that knowledge into a tiny little hard drive? It's a multi-step process that we've developed over the last ten years to ensure that everything in the eGranary is usable and useful.
Step 1: Identify Web sites with rich educational content
Since the advent of the World Wide Web, millions of individuals and organizations have digitized their information to share with the general public over the Internet.
Building on this phenomenon, we look for Web sites with pertinent digitized academic information (often guided by requests of our subscribers) and add these to our "wish list."
Step 2: Secure the author's or publisher's permission to copy their materials
We contact authors and publishers via email and simply ask, "Can we replicate your materials for institutions in developing countries with inadequate Internet connectivity?"
Depending on the subject area, we receive from 50% to 90% positive responses. So far, librarians lead the pack; medical resources are harder to come by.
Step 3: Copy the permitted materials to a hard drive at the University of Iowa's WiderNet Project
Using HTTrack, a Web site "scraping" software, we make a duplicate of the permitted materials on our server.
We do not change the content, although we remove links to annoying advertisement servers and "hit" monitors.
Sometimes we copy an entire Web site, sometimes just the portions that contain the most useful information.
Step 4: Make copies of the collection and distribute to subscribers
Using large hard disks, we deliver copies of the eGranary Digital Library to subscribers.
Most subscribers already have servers and local area networks in place, so they simply add the eGranary hard drive to their existing server.
We work with other universities and institutions to set up their first servers, sometimes using donated computers and software.
Step 5: Update and redistribute hard drives as time and travel schedules permit
We return to update our copy of each Web site on an occasional basis.
Then, taking advantage of traveler's schedules, we deliver updated hard disks to our subscribers two or three times a year. The hard drive is only as big as a paperback book, so it's easy to slip into one's personal luggage!
We've also developed a way to use various technologies, like satellite digital radio, to update the collection on an ongoing basis.