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Buddhadharma : Fall 2015
fall 2 0 1 5 buDDhaDharma: the practitioner’s quarterly 23 T he goal of the Tibetan Buddhist Resource Center (TBRC) is immense: to digitally preserve all of Tibetan literature and make it available around the world. The TBRC has already digitized ten mil- lion pages—over a million in the last year alone—not just in Tibetan but also in Mon- golian and Sanskrit. “There’s no end, actu- ally,” says Jeffrey Wallman, the executive director. “It’s not a bell curve.” The founder of TBRC, E . Gene Smith (left), wanted a system that allows users to fully know each text. Therefore, every scanned text has digital objects associated with it, such as citations, author biographies, or information about people named in the text, topics, places, clans, lineages—an intricate digital mosaic around the text to accurately contextualize it in the culture in which it was created. In total there are now thirty to fifty million digital objects in the archive. To ensure the long-term preservation of their material, TBRC is collaborating with Harvard Library’s Digital Repository Ser- vices (DRS) to create an enormous digital backup, a sort of digital safe haven. They have now completed technical testing and will soon begin uploading the entire archive to DRS. Working around the clock, it will take a full year to complete the upload. After that, the whole corpus stored in DRS can be made available, should the need arise. “If our funding ever runs out or we have to close our doors,” says Wallman, “the flags inside the Harvard repository can be turned on.” The arrangement ensures that all of TBRC’s work remains free, open, and accessible for years to come. TBRC’s digital archive was designed from the beginning to be modular, por- table, and vast in scope. “We really over- engineered everything,” says Wallman. “Gene knew thirty-two languages. He wanted something that was bomb-proof, that could scale without any problem.” The upload to Harvard’s DRS is a major step to achieving Smith’s vision. (Inset, from top) Page of the Peking Kangyur The Widener Library at Harvard Text being scanned at the TBRC office in Cambridge Catalogued manuscripts in TBRC’s Cambridge office. TBRC is home to the world’s largest digital library of Tibetan texts. photos courtesy of tbrc