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July 2015 Newsletter

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We've had an exciting quarter here at The WiderNet Project!  

We celebrated our 1,000th eGranary installation, ran a crowdfunding campaign to fund our latest innovation, eGranary Pocket Libraries, and are partnering with TED Talks to include all their videos on our next eGranary.

We also traveled to Nigeria in May to help our Field Associate, Jennifer Iveren Abagyeh, install digital libraries at the Nigerian Defense Academy. This marks the beginning of a five-year program to train librarians and create digital courses.

We appreciate your continued support and interest in our programs!

In the July 2015 Issue:

WiderNet Celebrates 1,000 eGranary Installations


The National Disaster Center of Port Moserby in Papau New Guinea was the recipient of eGranary lucky number 1,000.

WiderNet is proud to provide educational resources that will help the Center to provide essential services to their community.  

We commemorated this milestone with a celebration at the beautiful Chapel Hill Public Library with refreshments, live music, and a brief talk by Cliff about the history of WiderNet and future plans and programs.

From government agencies and libraries, to universities and hospitals, we continue to add new eGranary sites every day.  

In every corner of the globe, across Africa and India and in underserved areas in the U.S., millions of people benefit from the volunteers, content contributors, and donors who have made this effort possible.


The eGranary Pocket Library Initiative

In March of this year, WiderNet launched an IndieGoGo crowd funding campaign to help fund our newest innovation: the eGranary Pocket Library Project.  

We’re shrinking down the eGranary to create chip-sized libraries for specific populations.

After creating the Ebola Pocket Library last year, we realized the potential application of the "library on a chip" concept could exponentially increase our reach.  We've also learned over the years that specialized collections are welcomed by educators and students.  

While most people in developing countries lack access to the Internet, many have access to smartphones, tablets, and laptops.  We’ll take advantage of these existing platforms by providing community-centric educational resources that can be easily distributed and shared.

We're partnering with several organizations to create specialized collections, including the UAB Sparkman Center for Global Health.

Our IndieGoGo campaign was a complex project that we never could have done without the contributions of our talented volunteers. 

We had expert project management consultation from Raymond Conroy, who created a professional project plan and helped keep us all on track. 

One of our board members, Richard Chady, a seasoned journalist and public relations expert, was instrumental in promoting WiderNet and our Pocket Library project.

Our campaign also got a big boost from Mandie Sellars, a gifted graphic designer who created fantastic images for our campaign. 

All of us at the WiderNet Project extend our sincere thanks to the generous contribution of their combined talents to help make our project a success.

To see all the details about our latest initiative, including a short video from WiderNet Director Cliff Missen, or to make a donation, please click here: 



TED Talks Partners with WiderNet

We’re thrilled to announce that the next eGranary will include all 1,900 of the TED Talks videos!  TED Talks, big ideas in short Internet videos, are about to spread even further thanks to their collaboration with WiderNet.

Both TED and WiderNet are committed to the power of education and ideas to change lives.  This partnership will spread inspiring TED stories of innovation and hope to millions of new users.  

 “As TED extends its mission to hard-to-reach parts of the world, particularly where Internet connectivity is constrained or costly, we’re keen to partner with the right platforms to reach these underserved regions,” says Deron Triff, TED’s Director of Global Distribution and Licensing.  "eGranary’s solution is an important part of our strategy and we’re excited to support their efforts."

Cliff Missen, WiderNet Director, and a TED Fellow in 2007 notes,  “The addition of the TED Talks to the next eGranary will spread important and exciting ideas to people who have been left out of the conversation.”

TED is an internationally known nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks in 18 minutes or less. TED began in 1984 as a conference where Technology, Entertainment and Design converged, and today covers almost all topics — from science to business to global issues — in more than 100 languages.

Nigerian Defense Academy Installs eGranary Servers

WiderNet Field Associate Jennifer Iveren Abagyeh recently contracted with Colonel Muktar Bunza of the Nigerian Defence Academy in Kaduna to install two eGranary servers and provide five years of training and support.

The Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA), in essence the “West Point of Nigeria,” is the only Military University in Nigeria and has graduated over 18,000 Nigerian cadets and nearly 500 cadets from other African countries since they opened In 1964.

The academy devotes two out of the three years of its officer training solely to academic studies.  The eGranary Digital Library will be a resource to further the academic training of the officer cadets

In May, WiderNet director Cliff Missen traveled to the academy to oversee the installation of the servers and he and Jennifer began training the librarians and instructors.


Colonel Bunza holds a Master of Library and Information Science degree from the University of Ibadan and is a Member of the Nigerian Library Association.  As the college librarian for the academy, he realized the value of having access to the wealth of resources available on the eGranary Digital Library – all without the necessity of an internet connection.

Read more 

Staff Spotlight on Sherry Lochhaas

Sherry Lochhaas, our Head Digital Librarian for the past five years, recently took a position with the Contra Costa County Library in the San Francisco Bay area.  Sherry was an invaluable member of the WiderNet team and will be missed!  We caught up with her to get some of her thoughts about The WiderNet Project:

How did you first hear about WiderNet?  What initially sparked your interest in working with WiderNet?

I was attending the University of Iowa School of Library & Information Science when I first met WiderNet's director, Cliff Missen, who was also a professor of library science. Because I'm interested in working with technology & digital libraries and I also care deeply about working with underserved communities, the WiderNet Project's focus on bridging the digital divide around the world by bringing resources to those in developing countries was a perfect fit for me.

What were some challenges you faced working for a nonprofit? 

Small nonprofits are often underfunded institutions, unfortunately -- but we do it because we love what we do! Challenges included figuring out how to deliver a great product to our users while being under-funded and under-staffed -- yet somehow we manage.

Because WiderNet works with an international user-base and specifically with those who do not have adequate Internet access, providing technical support can also be challenging. WiderNet's technicians & programmers are extremely dedicated and can fix anything!

As a nonprofit, WiderNet relies heavily on wonderful volunteers. As always, it's great to have volunteers that can commit to a longer duration because the amount of training can be intensive. And of course - volunteers that have professional experience working with digital libraries are ideal.

Read more

Volunteer Spotlight Jourdan Laures

I heard about WiderNet on an online volunteer database, and as soon as a read about the project, I knew I wanted to be involved.  It's a great idea and I wanted to be a part of it.

My main focus right now is getting WiderNet more involved in the community and getting some fundraising efforts started.  My goal is to start a program where communities here in the US can easily fund-raise to sponsor a "sister library" in a developing area.

My major was Global Studies at UNC, and I focused on Global Health and the Environment.  Until now, most of my volunteering was in health sectors at UNC Hospitals and for the American Cancer Society.  However I realized I do not wish to become a health professional, and that is one reason why I ended up at WiderNet.

My future goals definitely include helping in the developing world.  Peace Corps is a strong option for my next couple years, so WiderNet is a good way for me to dip my toes in the water there.

Wow, I have learned so much here!  What has surprised me the most though is how little I actually knew about computers before I got here, and how much I have learned about how the eGranary works.  Figuring out that "Wi-Fi" does not mean "broadband Internet" threw me for a loop, and took some time to really understand.

Outside WiderNet, I enjoy baking, playing soccer, reading, and spending time with my friends and family.


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