Introducing Buddhist Digital Resource Center (BDRC)

We are pleased to announce the expansion of our institutional mission to include the preservation of texts in languages beyond Tibetan, including Sanskrit, Pali and Chinese. To reflect this expansion, we have officially changed our organizational name from Tibetan Buddhist Center (TBRC) to Buddhist Digital Resource Center (BDRC). In 2017, BDRC will begin preserving and making accessible texts in languages beyond Tibetan, starting with Pali, Sanskrit, and Chinese.

Expanded Mission, Expanded Impact

Since its founding in 1999 by E. Gene Smith, the Tibetan Buddhist Resource Center preserved and made accessible over twelve (12) million pages of vulnerable Tibetan texts. These manuscripts and woodblock prints represent centuries of Buddhist cultural knowledge that TBRC developed the unique skills, expertise, and technology to safeguard.

Now, at the request of our Board of Directors, as well as our partners and collaborators in the field of Buddhist studies, we are broadening our mission to include the preservation and dissemination of the many Buddhist literary traditions that, due to shifting social and environmental factors, remain in a precarious position. The Buddhist Digital Resource Center was thus established in order to bring the resources of its seventeen years of experience in the field of Buddhist studies to bear in this most pressing preservation task of our time.

This initiative will be the first in history to unify the diverse array of Buddhist texts into a single all-encompassing digital resource for the core textual sources of Buddhism. This has never been attempted, has never been done, and has never before been possible. We are thrilled to now be applying our successes preserving and making accessible Tibetan materials to the vast array of other language collections urgently in need of support.

Summary of Program Goals

The Buddhist Digital Resource Center (BDRC) will:

  1. Identify important Buddhist text collections as recommended by our Board of Advisors and create a definitive plan for their preservation.
  2. Build an encompassing digital archive and preservation ecosystem to archive and connect many Buddhist text collections, which will include:
    • A central bibliographic database for Buddhist texts based on linked open data.
    • A repository of both scanned source texts and searchable eTexts.
  3. Create an open platform for accessing, sharing and searching the archive using state of the art digital library methodologies.
  4. Foster a community of scholars, technologists, practitioners, and a global public committed to preservation.

Summary of Impact

Our program will:

  1. Create a central source for Buddhist texts and support the long-term preservation of Buddhist texts in Sanskrit, Pali, Chinese, Tibetan, and other languages.
  2. Sustain the transmission of Buddhist knowledge across cultures and languages by sharing resources online and offline via portable hard drive libraries.
  3. Dramatically increase the pace and quality of translations of Buddhist texts.
  4. Build a diverse community of scholars, translators, technologists, librarians, archivists, proponents of the living traditions, and the general public.
  5. Stabilize access to Buddhist textual sources in many languages, and thereby, facilitate a richer, more nuanced understanding of Buddhism.

Moving Forward: Next Steps

BDRC has begun scanning and making accessible Pali manuscripts from the Fragile Palm Leaves collection, with the guidance of Fragile Palm Leaves Foundation Director Peter Skilling. BDRC’s Fragile Palm Leaves Digitization Initiative is made possible by the generous support of the Khyentse Foundation. In addition, BDRC is in the process of building the Sanskrit and Chinese Digital Library Network (SCDLN), with crucial foundational support from the Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation. The SCDLN will provide a framework for the cataloging, organizing, and accessibility of Chinese and Sanskrit materials preserved by BDRC. In addition, In addition, BDRC operations will continue to facilitate the digitization of Tibetan publications in China through our Tibetan Manuscript, Block Print and Modern Publication Digitization Program.

At this time of growth and change, we feel especially grateful for our community of users, friends, and supporters, who have stood behind us throughout our history. Your ongoing support is what drives us forward as we work to ensure that Buddhist texts, across all languages, are safeguarded and make available for current and future generations. From all of us at BDRC, Thank You!

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