For most educators and students throughout the developing world, the Internet represents and expensive, unreliable, and oftentimes impossible method to access the existing treasure trove of on-line educational resources. Using off-line technologies to deliver Web information has the potential to be effective in many areas.
Since 2002, the WiderNet Project, a service program in the School of Library and Information Science at the University of Iowa, has been delivering off-line copies of Web sites to schools in the developing world via the eGranary Digital Library — “The Internet in a Box.” Through a process of mirroring web sites (with permission) and delivering them to partner institutions in developing countries, this digital library delivers instant access to a wide variety of educational resources including video, audio, books, journals, and Web sites over local area networks. With a built-in catalog and search engine, the eGranary appears to the end user to be just like the Internet, only many times faster. Amongst the 1,200 Web sites included in the eGranary are Wikipedia, MIT’s OpenCourseware, the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control, the Gutenberg Project, and hundreds of open source journals.