The University of Iowa

WiderNet Project’s 500th library goes to historic Kenyan town

September 5th, 2012

Program delivers collections of online resources to remote sites

From Iowa Now

village of Lamu

The goal of the University of Iowa’s WiderNet Project is to deliver educational information to underserved places, so it’s fitting that the 500th eGranary Digital Library was installed this summer in the remote island village of Lamu, a UNESCO World Heritage Site off the coast of Kenya in East Africa.

The 500th installation is a significant milestone for the 11-year-old program. Since its inception in 2000, the WiderNet Project has installed eGranaries worldwide in hundreds of educational institutions, health care facilities, and libraries in communities much like Lamu. The eGranary Digital Library has made educational information available to almost 2 million people without Internet access.

Lamu is Kenya’s oldest continuously-inhabited town.

“It took several hours by car, a small airplane, and a hand-hewn wooden boat to get there,” says WiderNet director Cliff Missen. The island is unique because of its well-preserved ancient Swahili architecture; visiting is very much like stepping backwards through time. “There are no cars on the island, just donkeys and lots of streets so narrow I could not spread my arms out,” Missen says.

Read more at Iowa Now