The University of Iowa

Final spring 2011 Baraza lecture examines eGranary Digital Library May 2

April 25th, 2011

What: The University of Iowa African Studies Program’s spring Baraza lecture series
When: Monday, May 2, at noon
Where: 1117 UCC
Topic: “300 Libraries Later: A survey of how the eGranary Digital Library is faring in the field”
Presented by: Cliff Missen

All Baraza lectures are free and open to the public.

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.

The eGranary is installed in more than 350 schools, clinics, and universities in Africa, India, Bangladesh, and Haiti.

This presentation will examine its use in schools, hospitals, and universities in underserved areas around the globe and highlight the results of a recently-completed evaluation study. This year-long evaluation, funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, involved surveys, focus groups, and server log analysis and reveals a host of challenges for those adopting digital solutions in education – or any new technology.

Missen is the director of the WiderNet Project.

The Swahili word “baraza” roughly translates to “meeting” or “forum” in English. The series brings a combination of UI and external scholars, graduate students, faculty and practitioners in various fields to the university for lectures on interdisciplinary research in African studies.

International Programs and the African Studies Program are sponsoring the series.

To view the entire series schedule, visit For more information, contact Leo Eko at or 319-353-1926.