The Tibetan Community Library

The Tibetan Community Library (TCL) is an initiative that aims at creating a dynamic online library with Tibetan language interface and content created by and for Tibetans. Designed by and for communities in Tibet, it will provide Tibetan language users direct access to a dynamic repository of knowledge about Tibetan culture, land, and heritage. At its center will be a powerful suite of software applications that allow for archiving and delivery of images, audio-video and texts, and their mutual interrelation by Tibetan place and subject matter. Thus searching for a specific place will allow users to see all videos, images, and texts associated by that place, while consulting a specific image, or video, will enable users to directly visualize the place in question on a map or in a description. The system is also being integrated with a powerful social networking application that tracks people, projects and organizations in the region, and directly indexes them by a detailed dictionary of places.

The initiative is currently in a  startup phase seeking funding even as we try to lay the foundations for a modest launch in 2011.  The existing Tibetan and Himalayan Library (THL) represents an outstanding online digital resource for Tibetan culture and knowledge and it has achieved prominence in humanities computing in particular for its innovative integration of digital tools and technology in the cross-disciplinary study of a region. TCL builds on this foundation and provides a platform for growing the potential of this unique resource far beyond international scholarship and research.

Drawing on an innovative integration of technology and tools, TCL will be developed with the interests and priorities of local Tibetan communities in mind. From the interface and navigation system to the strategic priorities set in content selection and development, TCL is being designed in partnership with Tibetans on the plateau. Working with a network of Tibetan scholars, community leaders, cultural entrepreneurs, and institutional partners, the initiative aims to build a dynamic support for the preservation, transmission, and growth of cultural knowledge now and into the future. It also is closely integrated with the participatory knowledge movement, which treats local community members from across social sectors as citizen scholars who have the capacity to create valid knowledge. TCL thus aims to be the repository not just of scholarly knowledge, but also a wide range of other forms of knowledge about oral and embodied traditions, and place and cultural traditions, which local Tibetans have unique abilities to document. The Library also aims to be a center for outside knowledge to be rendered in forms accessible to Tibetans, there also opening windows onto the broader world of knowledge.