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THE AUDIO-VISUAL ARCHIVE of the LTWA - the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives

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A letter of 10-10-03 from Alain Bywaters on this project

From: Alain Bywaters
Date sent: Fri, Oct 10, 2003

Dear David Chadwick,

Hope you enjoyed your visit at Dharamsala. Though we could not meet you personally during your last visit to Dharamsala we are deeply thankful for your kind concern and your support for the Sound Archiving project of this library.

After discussing many details with Ven. Karma Khedup, in charge of the Audio/Visual Section of this library, such as his current process for archiving these sacred teachings and interviews, it has been decided, upon much professional advice, that the current method is inappropriate and a more proper set-up is required with an outlook for the long-term. Karma has requested that I relay the project details to you and keep you updated with the progress made thus far. So that you are clear on what is happening here, I have taken the liberty to briefly explain some of the
reasons justifying the change of direction taken.

[The following list has undergone change but give the reader the idea for now of what sort of equipment requirements this project has. - DC]

Equipment required for the archiving project underway - Prioritised

First year: (Cost in Rupees, then dollars at June 2004 exchange rate)

1 x External IDE RAID- rack with 8 Hot swappable IDE bays - 200,000
16 x 250 GB External hard disk drives - 230,000
1 x independent server to IDE RAID rack - 30,000
1 x additional computer - 20,000
1 x assistants (66,000 rps/year), (66,000x10) - 660,000
1 x Edirol UA-5 USB Audio Capture device - 15,000
300 x DVD-R recordable media - 75,000
1 x EMP-8 Eight-Channel Microphone Preamplifier - 15,000
1 x NagraV Recorder - 380,000

Total - 1,625,000

2nd year:

1 x External IDE RAID- rack
with 8 Hot swappable IDE bays - less than 200,000
12 x 250 GB External hard drives - less than 165,000
500 x DVD-R recordable media - 125,000
100 x Blank DAT Tapes - 25,000
1000 x Blank CD-R's (Sony or Kodak Gold) - 45,000
One Sony Digital Camcorder PD-150 - 108,000

Total - 668,000


Server required for archiving long-term:

Until one month ago the recordings here were converted to 'mp3 format' and burnt onto CD. Even though this may be a recreational method to store ones music downloaded from the Internet, it is highly unsuitable for storing precious data long-term. One would find that after a short period of 2 years the CD media could be unreadable and the project would have to start all over again. Since then we have changed our storage methods to a 'hard-drive' storage system. After acquiring four external hard drives we are already storing and backing up the files. Modern-day methods suggest that the main technique for storage beyond the next decade is the use of a server based storage system.

This form of storage is ideal for digital files which can easily be transferred to the modern recreational media as it develops and changes-i.e. from the server one could record onto cassette tape, and/or CD's and/or DVD and/or almost anything even as the next media comes in. Also the data on the hard-drives we are currently storing on will be directly transferred onto the server. When this is done we will double the usage of the space currently available. This method is most time consuming yet cost effective in the long-run.

Also other libraries are taking the same advice for modernising their methods of digitization. This means that with this method they will be able to hook-up to each other via Internet and transfer these teachings-this will prove to be an excellent form for duplicating and preserving the ancient scripts and teachings. Then finally, whenever they are ready, they will be able to easily make the teachings available via the Internet.

The server mentioned above is new but is also the way many archiving facilities have or are moving towards, and for many of the same reasons is necessary to this project.

At this stage, the spool and tape recordings are taking up a substantial amount of space on the hard drives so more hard drives will be required initially. Eventually, the capacity of hard drives will increase and even today there are digital high-quality recording options, (i.e. the Nagra recording unit), which will take up substantially less space and again be most economical in the long run.

As you can see, at this stage the system needs to be corrected and upgraded before any assistants are found. Saying that, it doesn't mean that Karma doesn't need any help because that couldn't be further from the truth. After doing some brief calculations, it would seem that it will take Karma 7-12 years to complete the 25,000 hours of archiving he has to do, not including the recording he has to keep up with. Therefore, one assistant constantly archiving with the already present available computer will take maybe 5-7 years, then at least one additional computer so that this figure is halved and maybe even a second assistant would be my strong recommendation. This process would see the files archived and ready for duplication and preservation within 2-4 years. With the speed at which things are moving today, that might be acceptable.

So for this project we have already been able to acquire: 4 external hard disk drives; 100 DVD-R disks.

This is enough to get the project underway. Since prices are substantially cheaper in Singapore (e.g. the price of the hard-drives above are double if bought here in India!), so much so it worked out more economical to fly to Singapore, stay in a nice hotel eat some great food and smoke a cigar than it would have to buy the same things here! So that is what I did. It is for this reason I have suggested, that money donated will either go a lot further and/or be substantially better than equipment being bought from abroad. Having been able to establish very good contacts in Singapore they have informed me that they will be able to 'produce' some of these items in India if necessary.

Briefly, that is it. While a short time remains before I have to follow other commitments, I am doing my utmost to see this happen for Karma and most importantly for others who will be able access these wonderful teachings and interviews at some stage in the future. Unfortunately, my resources are limited or else I would have funded the project without much further consideration. I constantly pray to Buddha to allow me a larger accessible fund for many of the wonderful projects here! Seeing that you share the same concern for the teachings here and have been doing much to help Karma for the last so many years, I feel very honoured and pleased to make contact with you and hope that at some stage in the future we will have the pleasure to meet in person.

With regards to the project at hand, if you have any further questions or would like some clarity on any part I will be happily to do my best for you.

Send my warmest regards and best wishes from the Hilltops of the Himalayas, I look forward to hearing from you soon.

You are in our prayers

Alain Bywaters

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