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University of Iowa News Release

August 3, 2005

UI WiderNet Project Wins $225,000 Grant From Hewlett Foundation

The University of Iowa's WiderNet Project has received a $225,000 grant from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation to further bridge the digital divide and reduce information poverty in developing countries.

"This grant will enable us to grow the eGranary Digital Library, a new way to deliver the world's knowledge to those most in need," said Cliff Missen, who oversees the eGranary Digital Library as director of the WiderNet Project.

The eGranary Digital Library puts millions of documents instantly at the fingertips of scholars in developing countries without using an Internet connection. Missen said few schools in the developing world have adequate connections to the Internet, and those that do spend enormous amounts of money for slow and unreliable connections. The eGranary Digital Library overcomes this problem by storing huge amounts of information on hard drives inside a school's internal network. It contains books, websites, journals, movies and audio files from hundreds of contributing authors and publishers who freely contribute to help bridge the digital divide.

"It's hard for us in the U.S. to imagine, but only one out of seven people in the world has access to the Internet," Missen said. "What we do is take educational information from the Internet and -- with the publisher's permission -- distribute these resources to schools, clinics and libraries in the developing world. We plan to grow the eGranary Digital Library collection to more than 10 million documents and install it in hundreds of schools, hospitals and universities."

Mike Smith, program director of the Hewlett Foundation Education Program, said the foundation was eager to support the WiderNet Project's eGranary Digital Library. "We strongly support the development of open content and we believe the eGranary Digital Library will be key to delivering such content to underserved areas of the world."

The WiderNet Project has also developed a plug-and-play server that makes it possible to deliver the eGranary Digital Library to schools without much computer expertise.

Launched in 2000, the WiderNet Project is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving digital communications in developing countries. In addition to the eGranary Digital Library, the WiderNet Project trains computer technicians and coaches decision-makers in African universities, provides cutting-edge research on information technology issues facing the developing world, and donates computer equipment to partner universities.

The Hewlett Foundation, with an endowment of about $6.3 billion, concentrates its resources on activities in education, environment, global development, performing arts and population. In addition, the foundation has programs that make grants to advance the field of philanthropy and to support disadvantaged communities in the San Francisco Bay Area.

More information about the Hewlett Foundation is at http://www.hewlett.org. More information about the WiderNet Project is at http://www.widernet.org.

The WiderNet Project is a service unit of UI International Programs, which consists of a number of offices, centers, academic programs, research projects and services. Organized under the associate provost and dean for international programs, these units serve to further internationalize the campus and community and promote global scholarship, research and teaching.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

CONTACTS: Media: Cliff Missen, WiderNet Director, 319-335-2200, missenc@widernet.org; Mary Abboud, 319-335-2200, 319-621-0088, abboudm@widernet.org

OTHER INFORMATION: More information about the Hewlett Foundation is at http://www.hewlett.org. More information about the WiderNet Project is at http://www.widernet.org.