Library purchases access to important digitized Tibetan texts

Tibetan Buddhist TextAs of June 6, the Library provides access to Collections 8-10 of the Tibetan Buddhist Resource Center (TBRC). These collections were purchased this spring with a combination of funds donated by the Library Society and the Divinity School, as well as a price reduction offered by the TBRC. With this purchase, the University community has access to all the collections available from the TBRC. Each collection consists of 1,000 volumes and covers the full range of genres and topics. The high-quality scans are zoomable and searchable. Many of the texts that have been digitized were printed in the pre-modern era, allowing users to study the physical qualities of the texts as manuscripts, and not simply its content. The volumes are available through the Center’s website for institutional subscribers and are also delivered to subscribing institutions as electronic files.

The Tibetan Buddhist Resource Center (TBRC) was founded and directed by the late Dr. E. Gene Smith (1936-2010), the former Director of the Library of Congress Field Office in New Delhi and an acclaimed Tibetologist, in order “to seek out, preserve, organize, and make available Tibetan literature.”   The texts have been converted to electronic format and proofread according to very exacting standards by a staff consisting of Tibetologists and librarians. They have become the standard for research.  Image of text being scanned The Center “is dedicated to the preservation, organization and dissemination of Tibetan literature. Using the latest digital technologies, TBRC is ensuring that the treasures of this incredible body of literature will never be lost.” (www.tbrc.org)

Tibetan texts are indispensable tools for research on Indian and Tibetan Buddhist philosophy, history, ritual, art, and linguistics.   In recent years the University of Chicago has expanded its program of training in the languages of Southern Asia.   Under the direction of Matthew Kapstein, Numata Visiting Professor of the Philosophy of Religion and the History of Religions, Christian K. Wedemeyer, Associate Professor of the History of Religions, and Daniel Arnold, Associate Professor of the Philosophy of Religion, the University offers a comprehensive curriculum in Tibetan studies for both undergraduate and graduate students. For the past two years, Karma Ngodup, a native Tibetan speaker and pioneer in the use of digital tools for Tibetan language pedagogy, has lectured in beginning and intermediate modern literary and spoken Tibetan, making the University of Chicago one of a handful of institutions at which undergraduates can study Tibetan language.

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