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Fall 2017 Newsletter






WiderNet Fall 2017 Newsletter


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It has been an exciting quarter here at The WiderNet Project, with collaborations from Raleigh to France.  Read below to find out more!



 SECC Combined Campaign

SECC combined campaign logo SECC Code: 3909

We are pleased to announce that we are now an approved State Employees Combined Campaign charity in North Carolina!

The SECC gives state employees and retirees opportunities support charitable organizations that are accountable, fiscally sound, and dedicated to improving the quality of life in North Carolina, the nation and the world.

On top of meeting the legal requirements of a North Carolina non-profit, we were audited by Thomas and Gibbs, CPAs (who were very thorough, a pleasure to work with, and gave us great advice.)

We’re pleased to have the endorsement of the SECC and the support of state employees.  See the SECC website here:

 New Location

After four years in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, WiderNet has moved to Durham. 

You can now find us at: Picture of new WiderNet location sign
1906 NC-54 
Suite 100F
Durham, NC 27713

Near the Research Triangle Park, our new location gives us greater access to the area’s wealth of tech resources and stronger partnerships with our ICT colleagues.

With easy access to I-40 and I-540, the move will also cut down commute times for our staff and volunteers, who hail from all over the Triangle.

WiderNet maintains an active presence in Chapel Hill via the ongoing work at our lab in the School of Information and Library Science, WiderNet@UNC.

Drop by and see us in our new home!

Rebuilding Mzuzu University's Library

Picture of burned out library at Mzuzu University in Malawi

 Since the library of Mzuzu University in Malawi burned   down in September 2016, university librarians have   been quick to improvise, setting up a temporary library   in the school’s dining hall. The space is now filled with   shelves donated by the World Bank and a starter   collection of books.

In March, WiderNet’s Director Cliff Missen spent 11 days in Malawi delivering a major recharge to the university library’s resources.

WiderNet installed a lab including 16 laptops (six of them donated by Lenovo), a 12-volt Granary Server, Wi-Fi access points, and a powerful battery backup system. We also delivered a whopping 65 pounds of children’s books to nearby primary schools for AIDS orphans. 

Missen spent a week with the university library staff demonstrating the new resources and developing local content using the built-in Community Information Platform.

The addition of the eGranary to Mzuzu University’s growing library will vastly multiply the information available to its students and faculty by introducing a wealth of information in the arts and sciences. While reconstructing buildings and repopulating book collections takes time, the acquisition of this one item puts tens millions of information resources at students’ fingertips.

WiderNet is pleased to partner with Mzuzu University in their inspiring rebuilding effort.


Picture Joseph Cox-McMahon

   French eGranary


Parlez-vous français?  WiderNet is developing a French language version of the eGranary. The French eGranary will target internet-poor francophone communities, bolstering their resources for education, business and research. French is the fifth most widely spoken language in the world, with nearly 55 percent of the world’s 212 million active French speakers living in Africa, according to the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie.

WiderNet volunteer Joseph Cox-McMahon, a student at the School of Library and Information Science, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, has taken on the challenge of the French eGranary. He spent a year researching the process of adapting the eGranary’s digital library to cater to a French-speaking audience, exploring content for this new eGranary and publicizing WiderNet’s work locally as an exchange student at l’Université Paul-Valéry Montpellier III.

The administration, faculty and students at the University in Montpellier, France have voiced tremendous support for the project, and their ongoing relationship with UNC creates an opportunity for students on both campuses to collaborate in this international effort.

Now back in North Carolina, Cox-McMahon is using the international network of contacts he has built to continue shepherding the creation of the French eGranary. In collaboration with his French professor at UNC, Cox-McMahon even created a French version of our explainer video on YouTube:

Cox-McMahon and WiderNet are in early talks with Department of Education contacts in the Ivory Coast about the implementation of the eGranary there, where the device can service both educational institutions and local communities. WiderNet affiliates in francophone countries also plan to participate in the development and rollout of this eGranary.

     Children's Portal

Picture Laura Ashcraft

  While the eGranary serves adult learners and educators around the world, WiderNet’s Digital Librarian Laura Ashcraft has identified an opportunity to serve an additional population: primary and secondary school students. 

  Ashcraft is developing a new children’s portal to be integrated into forthcoming versions of the eGranary. The portal will act as a one-stop repository of information for young learners and their teachers. In the same way that the eGranary delivers a curated mini-internet that can go anywhere, the children’s portal offers a way for primary and secondary educators to exponentially increase the materials available to their students with the acquisition of a single resource—even in communities with limited internet access.

The children’s portal is founded on a strong base of STEM resources. From there, Ashcraft and her team are expanding the collection to include humanities and liberal arts materials. As with the eGranary, the portal will continue to evolve, allowing future iterations to take advantage of newer websites and to respond to client requests for country and region-specific additions.

In building this new collection, Ashcraft has prioritized finding dynamic resources that children can utilize, such as interactive multiplication tables, in addition to more traditional static pages.   The use of such dynamic resources will not only engage children more heavily in the learning process and activate diverse learning styles, but will also build crucial computer literacy skills at a young age.

Ashcraft anticipates completing work on the children’s portal in the next several months, and has already received interest from educators overseas in this promising addition to WiderNet’s line.



 Training in Nigeria 2018


eGranary Academy Logo

We are excited to announce eGranary Academy is coming back to Nigeria in May! This time, the training will be held in Lagos.


Whether you currently use an eGranary or are considering installing one soon, this will be the definitive way for you and your staff to master the eGranary, create local Web sites, manipulate and create graphics, and design digital courses.


Over five days, attendees will have the opportunity to learn about the best practices and lessons drawn from universities throughout the world.


This five-day hands-on workshop includes snacks, refreshments, handouts, and lunch at the training site.  Each participant will also receive a USB key loaded with free software and thousands of technical training resources, as well as be eligible to win raffle prizes.


Attendees will also receive a coupon for $200 off the purchase of a new eGranary.

Seats will be filling up fast!


To ensure your spot and registration please visit our website:


Or contact your Field Associate:

Shola Kehinde -, 0803-806-5089 or 0810-809-4388

Jennifer Abagyeh-Igbudu -, 0806-535-0048

 Volunteer Spotlight: Nayoung Kim

Picture Nayoung Kim

This year, WiderNet bid a fond farewell to one of our valued volunteers, Nayoung Kim. After relocating from South Korea to the United States when her husband enrolled at UNC’s Business School, Nayoung discovered WiderNet through a volunteer website and decided to get involved.  Having lent her time and efforts to our organization for the past year, she’s now back home in South Korea. 

Nayoung has been a huge help around the office, always willing to assist with tasks ranging from customer data entry to prepping brochures and fundraising mailings. She has also helped out with library research.  For Nayoung, one of the most valuable elements of her volunteer position was the opportunity to get hands-on experience in a professional environment by participating in board meetings. She also treasures the memory of learning that her colleague William Kamkwamba is a best-selling author. Of course she immediately ordered his book and got his autograph on it! Overall, Nayoung feels that her tenure with WiderNet has afforded her an opportunity to actively integrate with American society as a foreigner.

Nayoung misses America, but plans to keep busy taking care of her family and working for the Department of Labor. We thank Nayoung for all of her hard work!




Many Thanks to Sarah Archer Moulton for donating her writing talents, and Jennifer Brookland for donating her editing skills for this month's newsletter

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