Indra’s Net for the Information Age: Buddhist Digital Resource Center’s new online library
Invited speaker: Dr. Jann Ronis, Executive Director of Buddhist Digital Resource Center (BDRC)
Date: March 28th, 2022 (Monday)
Time: 10:00 – 11:30 am (Hong Kong Time)
Conducted in English / All are welcome / No registration is required
Sponsored by Tung Lin Kok Yuen
About the lecture
This talk will introduce an innovative new resource in Buddhist Studies. The Buddhist Digital Archives – or BUDA – is an online platform with the largest open access collection of Buddhist texts on the Web. With a sophisticated database that powers research into the Buddhist canons, BUDA provides free and global access to over 25 million pages of Buddhist texts in all of the major canonical languages (Chinese, Sanskrit, and Tibetan) as well as vernacular writings in Burmese, Khmer, Newari, and other Asian languages. This unequaled digital library consists largely of scanned manuscripts and woodblock prints made by the Buddhist Digital Resource Center, including millions of pages of old Tibetan, Burmese, and Khmer texts that are not otherwise available outside of remote libraries in Asia. This unique archive is augmented by thousands of volumes in Chinese, Sanskrit, Tibetan, and other languages that are integrated into BUDA through data sharing practices with other institutions that believe the Buddhist literary heritage should be open access.
BUDA’s advanced bibliographic model unifies this diverse collection of Buddhist works. For instance, BUDA links together versions of sutras so that a researcher can easily locate and access the Sanskrit, Chinese, and Tibetan parallels of important scriptures. BUDA also features a massive corpus of Tibetan etexts that are paired page-by-page with the scans of the hardcopies of the same texts.
This talk will involve a demonstration of BUDA and a discussion of salient issues in Buddhist digital humanities. BUDA was developed by the Buddhist Digital Resource Center in Boston, USA, with support from the Robert H.N. Ho Family Foundation. BDRC is the foremost nonprofit dedicated to digitally preserving Buddhist texts and making them freely available to members of the Buddhist tradition, academics, and translators. BDRC is currently involved in major scanning projects in Mongolia, Thailand, and Cambodia. To get a preview of the site please visit www.bdrc.io
The collection of Burmese manuscripts digitized at Dr. Peter Skilling’s Fragile Palm Leaves archive
The collection of Pali and Khmer palm leaf manuscripts in Khmer script digitized in Cambodia
The Taishō Tripiṭaka 大正新脩大藏經
National Library of Mongolia collection of Tibetan texts
About the speaker
Dr. Jann Ronis, Executive Director of Buddhist Digital Resource Center (BDRC)
Jann Ronis brings to BDRC a strong background in Buddhology, pedagogy, and the digital humanities. He received MA and PhD degrees from the University of Virginia, where he researched the history of the Tibetan kingdom of Dergé in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and particularly the local Nyingma monasteries. In recent years, his research interests have expanded into the fields of literary analysis and contemporary Tibetan culture. Jann is fluent in both classical and spoken Tibetan, including both the Central and Kham dialects, and is highly proficient in Mandarin Chinese.
Jann's love for the study of Buddhism began with the Antioch Buddhist Studies study abroad program in Bodh Gaya in the Fall of 1995. He began learning spoken and literary Tibetan the following year in Kathmandu while a student with the University of Wisconsin's College Year in Nepal program. After completing his MA degree, he took his first trip to Tibet during the summer of 2000, traveling alone in Kham. In 2001, he spent the summer in Lhasa with a team from the Tibetan and Himalayan Digital Library (now known as the Tibetan and Himalayan Library), which kicked off his long involvement with digital humanities initiatives.
In 2005, fresh from 18 months in Beijing and Kham on a Fulbright doctoral research grant, Jann joined TBRC as a scholar-in-residence. He worked closely with BDRC's founder, E. Gene Smith, and Jeff Wallman (TBRC's Executive Director Emeritus, who was Director of Technology at the time), to develop the first iteration of TBRC's outlines, which remain the primary template for TBRC's metadata.
Jann moved to Berkeley in 2011 to assume the position of Shinjo-Ito Postdoc in Buddhist Studies at University of California, Berkeley, for two years. He then stayed on at UC Berkeley as Lecturer of Tibetan Studies for five years.
As Executive Director, Ronis is excited to expand BDRC into a truly pan-Buddhist resource, with enhanced digital tools and expanded literary holdings from around the world.