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Pocket Libraries

Help us provide high-quality educational resources to the five billion people who lack Internet access.

Our customized pocket libraries:

  • deliver the right information
  • to the right hands
  • at the right time.      


The eGranary Pocket Library is a collection of customized educational web-based resources developed by experienced digital librarians and computer programmers at WiderNet. The collections are curated onto portable chips and intended for use with devices in areas where Internet access is impossible or impractical.


"In places like Sierre Leone, 1.7% of the population has Internet, so this is the best way for most people to get access to information."
-- Mashable

"Everything looks and acts like the internet, but all offline."
-- Christian Science Monitor

"The eGranary Pocket Library hopes to help close the digital divide - those communities with access to digital technology, and those without."
-- Versus


WiderNet Director, Cliff Missen, requests your help.

Video generously donated by Ryan Romkema


Beyond the Reaches of The Internet

In much of the developing world, there is no access to educational opportunities: no Internet, sparsely stocked libraries, out of date books and journals, and no connection to the world of information most of us access with the click of a mouse.

Billions of people are starving for information; literally dying for a lack of knowledge. If someone cannot access information on how to properly dig a well, for example, they run the risk of spreading disease.

Our pocket libraries provide critical information to those most in need of these educational resources.


Information for All, Customized to Individual Needs

WiderNet is dedicated to providing educational resources for everyone. However, for inexperienced populations, using the Internet for the first time can be overwhelming - a bit like drinking from a fire hose.

We've learned that offering smaller, customized, verified, and organized sets of information allows people to more efficiently find what they are seeking.

With the eGranary Pocket Library, we make it easier for librarians, educators, and volunteers around the world to organize information into small portable chip-size collections that can be simply copied to the patron’s flash memory or internal drive in a laptop, tablet, or smart phone.


Your donation will provide a student or village health worker a wealth of information at their fingertips!

A student discusses the benefits of having an eGranary at the Dandiboru School in Ethiopia

We need your help to build the "Next Generation" eGranary: Pocket Libraries.

We will use your contribution to support the development of multiple collections with partners worldwide, developing new crowd source technology and interfaces so experts from the local communities can work with colleagues around the world to build the most appropriate collections for the communities they serve.

This multi-year project will have students and volunteers at WiderNet working with colleagues in underserved areas in the U.S. and the developing world to develop dozens of chip-sized collections that focus on topics like language and literacy, life skills, vocational education, IT skills, health sciences, math, science, and more.

Experienced librarians and programmers will be recruited for each collection, along with volunteers and representatives of the target populations. We are not simply creating a software that distributes random information, aka "shovelware," but instead thoughtfully curated, catalogued and searchable libraries containing practical and essential resources.





"Chip In" to build a library!

 Up to 100,000 educational resources that fit onto a single chip.

  • $500 to be highlighted in the collection as a champion.
  • $10,000 to sponsor a collection.
  • $15,000 to sponsor a collection on the topic of your choice

Ethiopian Education Pocket Library
Requested by the Tigrai Education Bureau and the Oromia State Education Bureau, this Pocket Library will contain resources for secondary school children, including nomads, with content developed by Ethiopian Ministry of Education as well as items supporting local languages and cultures. 
(No sponsor yet...)

Zambian Nurse Training Pocket Library
Sponsored by the Sparkman Center for Global Health at the University of Alabama, this follow-on to our hugely successful Zambia Medical Library will be used to increase the number of young people enrolled in nursing training programs nationwide.

Durham Young Adult Pocket Library
We'll work with the Durham County Public Library to build a collection geared toward high school students, covering a wide variety of general educational subjects, including studying and test preparation, career planning, communication, daily living, home life, housing and money management, self care, social relationships, work and study skills, and work life. 
(No sponsor yet...)

Rural Agriculture Pocket Library
This collection contains digital resources about agriculture, food processing, and nutrition for rural areas and tropical climates. 
(No sponsor yet...)

STEM Pocket Library
A collection of resources to for teaching science, technology, engineering, and math, especially to girls and young women.
(No sponsor yet.  One champion. )

Water Resources Pocket Library
Information for communities and entrepreneurs engaged in developing rural water resources. 
(No sponsor yet.  One champion: Wellspring Africa. )

Assistive Technology Pocket Library
A collection of resources to help make computers more accessible for persons with disabilities. 
(No sponsor yet.  One champion: Andrea Shettle.)

Great Stories Pocket Library
Thousands of books, audio, and videos for entertainment, edification, and adventure.  For all ages and interests. 
(No sponsor yet...)

Going Digital Pocket Library
A variety of resources - tutorials, open source software, best practices, etc. - for people to digitize their stories and/or develop course curricula.  Includes Web Design, image creation and manipulation, audio and video production tools. 
(No sponsor yet...)

Veterinary Sciences Pocket Library
Resources for veterinarians, field workers, farmers, and extension agents on animal husbandry and health care. 
(No sponsor yet...)





TED Talks Featured on the eGranary!

TED talks, big ideas in short Internet videos, are about to spread even further thanks to a collaboration with the eGranary Digital Library!

All 2,600 TED talks are included in the the off-line “Internet in a Box” that is used in locations that lack adequate Internet access in places like Africa and India.


Bridging the Digital Divide


Map showing distribution of IP addresses worldwide. (Image courtesy of John Matherly of Shodan)  

Though internet coverage has increased exponentially in developed countries, it has lagged far behind in the developing world with wide disparities in global connectivity.

In 2016, the United Nations reported that while more than half of the wealthy world is online, a mere 15 percent of people in developing countries are connected.  WiderNet is “building a bridge across the digital divide” in order to attack information poverty and encourage education, research and collaboration.



Our Goals


Technical Specifications



The Story of the eGranary Digital Library

We have been distributing our off-line libraries to underserved populations for 18 years. We call our library the “eGranary” because it stores the seeds of knowledge much like a granary stores seeds. With more than 2,000 installations, we have reached millions of users to date.

The eGranary houses 35 million documents including the entire Wikipedia website, materials from the Khan Academy, and much, much more. Our eGranary is invaluable to hospitals, schools, and libraries in developing nations from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe and in rural areas and prisons here in America. And WiderNet has plans to expand locally by installing eGranaries in low income housing communities.

In 2000, poor Internet access in Africa inspired Cliff Missen, a Professor of Library Science at UNC Chapel Hill, to begin WiderNet, with the goal of bringing computing capability and substantial information resources to the five billion people who lack sufficient Internet access.

Focusing on low-cost information technology alternatives for the world’s poor, WiderNet provides both hardware and specialized training. The innovative cornerstone of the project is the eGranary Digital Library, or “Internet in a Box:” A single eGranary can serve thousands of users and have profound benefits.


The Prototype Pocket Library in Practice

WiderNet developed and distributed the first eGranary Pocket Library during the recent Ebola crisis. Our Ebola Pocket Library contains practical information critically needed in the hardest hit areas.

We saw clearly during the height of the Ebola epidemic that lack of access to accurate and timely information was a major contributing factor to the disease's spread. As Dr. Guido Borghese, UNICEF Prinicpal Advisor of Child Survival & Development for west and Central Africa noted, "Ebola kills people; but more lives are put at risk because of lack of information or misinformation..."

The chips can be freely copied so that the information can spread faster than the disease!

Read the story!

Spreading the Seeds of Knowledge

With our pocket libraries, the eGranary will no longer be confined to a central server location, but will be able to be shared via smartphones, tablets, laptops and flash drives.


With every eGranary we include easy-to-use tools that allow local users to create and upload their own content.


Mulugeta Assefa, our Field Associate in Ethiopia, reports...

"I was in Hawassa University for a workshop, in collaboration with MEPI and the College of Medicine and Health Science, to implement the eGranary and help them develop their own local content. The workshop was successful. We were able to organize an eGranary club, which is responsible to search for important resources both from the eG and the digitized collections of the university, students, and instructors and then make it available to users through the use of the CIP.



Our Content Includes Resources From...

(...and many, many more)


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