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What does it cost to make an eGranary Digital Library?


As an eGranary drive goes out the door, the cost to the subscriber is a fraction of the cost of the entire enterprise. 

WiderNet works hard to raise funds through grants, gifts, and training programs to cover the major content and feature development costs. 

We pledge to the authors and publishers that nobody will make a profit from their generous donation of educational resources, so it is important that we charge an amount that represents the actual costs of distributing the libraries.

Working with several process analysis professionals, we have identified the costs that we incur with each additional drive, including shipping and handling, technical support, patron education, and warrenty obligations.

It all adds up pretty quickly.

The obvious stuff for a USB external version...

  • 8TB hard drive
  • An external USB case
  • Unit assembly and drive copy
  • Printed manual and instructions
  • Printed usage promotion materials
  • Anti-virus software
  • Extra bits like cables and adaptors
  • Packaging materials, labels, tape

In the case of server versions, additional stuff includes...

  • A server with rugged high quality components that are field-replacable
  • OS hard drive
  • Extra RAM
  • Windows software
  • Extra network ports and pre-configured Wi-Fi
  • Additional documentation and customs forms.

Less obvious on-going costs of distributing eGranaries that are NOT covered by development grants…

  • Database programmers in Java, ASP, and PHP for user interfaces, search engine optimization and maintenance, indexing, product testing, and eGranary software updates
  • On-going maintenance and updates to the Community Information Platform
  • Computer technicians to support the project's desktops and servers
  • Maintaining customized drive copy systems
  • Rigorous bench testing of all new hardware components and combinations
  • On-going technical support for several years for every eGranary sold
  • Handling hardware warranty issues, returns, and disposal
  • Extra shipping costs for warranty repairs (it costs >$250 to send a hard drive to Africa!)
  • Data ports and telecommunications for content updates, tech support, and distribution
  • Over 20 servers and Web scrapers operating 24/7
  • Librarian staff to monitor, update, and catalog existing materials – this is an on-going job in an effort to keep the eGranary up to date. (Adding new materials is typically covered by grants and gifts.)
  • Volunteer coordinator to oversee the dozens of volunteer staff contributing to the eGranary content as well as coordinate monthly volunteer work days
  • Education, deployment promotion, and usage promotion, (flyers/posters, Web design/development, demonstrations at conferences and meetings, promotion kits for field associates)
  • Managing and training over a dozen Field Asscociates
  • Evaluation of field units and usage, including surveys, log collection, and data analysis
  • Transaction costs, like securing signed licenses, handling payments, providing customer service, mailings, and solving the myriad problems that arise from international shipping
  • Development of training manuals for server administrators, librarians, trainers in the field
  • Production of end-user training materials, patron promotional materials, and instructional resources
  • Someone to oversee all of this and keep butts in their seats according to various regulations

What does all this mean?

WiderNet is a very small organization. The cost of the eGranary barely provides enough to cover the most obvious production and equipment expenses. As we do not make a profit from eGranary sales, it doesn't even cover all of WiderNet's operating expenses.