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A Proposal to fund this archiving work of THE AUDIO-VISUAL ARCHIVE of the LTWA - the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives   
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submitted by Lama Karma Khedup    ---- VOLUNTEER

Project Proposal-
[I'm going to put up the info on where to send money and how very soon. - DC]

Transfer of Audio/Visual Information to Digital Media

Statement of Purpose:

The purpose of this project is to transfer Audio/Visual Information of Tibet's religions, culture and people to digital media. Digital media will replace the existing media (gramophone, audio, video, reel tapes, & film). This will allow us to have far greater reliability in terms of storage, consuming less space and saving time, thereby making possible the preparation of research for audio and visual documentaries that record vanishing and evolving aspects of the Tibetan way of life and culture. It is our belief that the visual record prepared will uniquely preserve visual information as a permanent scholarly and cultural resource on many important developments in human effort and organization.


The Oral History Department's Audio/visual Section at the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives (LTWA) is the only active Tibetan Oral History Program in the world. In operation since 1981, the collection has holdings of more than 25,000 hours of gramophone, films, audio, video, reels, DATs and CDs in Tibetan of personal interviews, Tibetan cultural and Buddhist religious activities, and works by His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama. It is by nature a long term project, and one of the most important projects at the Library. It is critical to the preservation of the Tibetan culture, the recordings of new refugees from Tibet and dialogues with older residents of Dharamsala, which will be invaluable in the future for the education of youth and different programs. The gathering of valuable materials by the Library will be able to continue as an integral part of the preservation program of the Tibetan community.

Since inception in 1981, the Department has gathered over 25,000 hours of recordings. The program's growth over the last decade is a result of the rapid rise in the influx of refugees from Tibet, the active cultural and religious life around the Tibetan Government in-exile, and the Library's mandate to record as much as possible of the existing Tibetan Culture. This is all credited to the Ford Foundation for funding this program from 1981 until 1991.

Target population:

The Library of Tibetan Works and Archives serves as a National Library to the entire Tibetan community in-exile (150 0 population) and to the various international scholars interested in Tibetan Studies/Tibetology. Fulfillment of this project will greatly benefit the Tibetan community and the various international scholars on a full range of Tibetan culture and Tibetan Buddhist religious knowledge.

Statement of Need:

With the funding provided by Ford Foundation and the resources and dedication generated in the Library the program was able to record 25,000 hours of teachings and interviews

However, this vast store of knowledge, which is yet to be made, known to the world is presently stored on gramophone, audio, reels, video, DATs, CDs and films whose reliability is a big question mark ! As the life span of an audiotape is 12-15 years this means the wealth of knowledge stored in these media in the near future faces danger of being lost forever. The concerns of the Oral History Department's Audio-Visual Archive therefore is serious and immediate and it requires to combat such fears by using alternative and more reliable media i.e. copying and transferring this information using the latest state-of-art technology that is now available in the market-digital technology.

A concerted analysis of the needs of the LTWA has established the following basic needs that the Oral History Department's Audio-Visual Archive is charged with meeting:

Transfer knowledge contained in audio, reels, gramophone, video, DAT, CD and films to digital media.


The transfer of our vast but fragile holdings of Oral History (Audio-Visual Archives) to a durable medium will enable us to expand our service to a wider range of Library users. As well as being the library of deposit for the collective remembrance of Tibet, we will be able to make our holdings more widely available, without jeopardizing the integrity of master copies.

Who are the new users of our oral history repository, once it is accessible on-line? We envisage several new markets for our holdings:

* Young Tibetans are increasingly curious about old Tibet, which in-exile they have not seen, yet cherish, the more so since recent feature films have so thoroughly recreated the sights and sounds of Tibet for mass audiences.

* Researchers around the world, both scholarly and in search of authentic detail for movie set design.

* The mimesis of artists: Tibetans staging operas, modern artists seeking inspiration, composers, exhibition designers.

* Tibetan public servants engaged in planning for future Tibet seeking precise details of economic, political or cultural arrangements in old Tibet as their baseline.

* Popular demand for tape copies of CD masters can now be met.

* Radio producers can access our holdings and download them in formats conducive to editing for broadcast. There are now four Tibetan broadcasting stations. broadcasting into Tibet from India, Norway and the US, which have constant need of new materials.

These are examples of new users identified by our research. In the longer term, we look forward to making our holdings available to Tibetans in Tibet when it becomes possible for many millions of people forced into amnesia about the past to begin the long process of remembrance. One day our oral history holdings will be vital to the reawakening of all our people, not only those presently in exile. After decades of compulsory amnesia, where will they turn to plug into their roots ? With the oral history of a highly oral culture safely preserved on durable CD-ROM, we will be ready, whether or not it takes a long time for this or the next generation of Tibetans to use our resources to rediscover their identity and heritage.

Other, but significant advantages as below:

* Reliability, Life span of CD is ten times that of audiotapes, (see Technical specifications in support of digital technology).

* Forty hours of audio record in one single CD. New media are (such as DVD disks) that will allow the Library to archive about 20 times more (800 hours per disk)

* Once audiotapes are copied into digital media, it is very easy to make backups and therefore minimize almost to zero the risk of losing them.

* Once the Audiotape has been transferred in the computer through the Audio card, the sound may be modified, transformed and adjusted.

* This format can easily be used on a LAN(Local Area Network) and therefore can be accessed from any PC.

Program Objectives:

The goal of this project is to transfer all the audio and visual information into digital media which are more reliable.

By the year 2012 the entire holdings of the Oral History Department's Audio-Visual will be restored in digital media which will meet the goals of the Project.

25,000 hours of recorded audiotapes and visual information will be transferred. In order to have good or better reliability plus speed in recording the CD's, SCSI CD recorder DVD Video Recorder and hard disk or hard drive would be used.

Conclusion :

The Oral History Project at the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives is one of the most important programs currently under way to preserve Tibetan Culture for the future. Generous funds from the Ford Foundation, (the Tibet Relief Fund of the U.K., the Tibet Fund of USA), enabled the program to run for ten years. Interviewing newly arriving refugees,
recording the teaching of His Holiness the XIVth Dalai Lama, taping the cultural and religious life around the Tibetan communities, and preserving folk tradition, Arts and Crafts, which are in danger of dying out, all these are important aspects of the program's work. New equipment purchases and adapting to technological changes, will allow the department to work more efficiently, and more people around the community can be retained for the project and trained in it's use. The Oral History Department's Audio-Visual Archive at the LTWA is the only Tibetan Language Oral History Program in the World that actively acquires new holdings each year and as such should be able to continue its important work to the community and the world at large. But these holdings in their present state (audio and visual media) are under threat of disintegrating, and need to be copied and transferred to safer and reliable media using the latest state of art technology i.e. Digital technology if they are to survive.

Karma Khedup submits the above information after consulting with Mr. David Chadwick for fund raising of this Institution.

Karma Khedup

In Charge Audio/Visual Section
Library of Tibetan Works & Archives
Dharamsala - 176215, INDIA
Tel (Off): +91-1892-222467,226095,201347
Fax: +91-1892-223723

This proposal was written by Alain Bywaters working with Karma Khedup

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