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Technological Innovation and Cooperation for Foreign Information Access Project   printer-friendly-version
Program: Technological Innovation and Cooperation for Foreign Information Access
Award Number: P337A050034
Grant Period: 10/01/2005 - 09/30/2010
World Areas: Inner Asia
East Asia
South Asia
Southeast Asia
2005:  $196,000
2006:  $196,000
2007:  $196,000
2008:  $196,000
Total:  $784,000
Institution: University of Virginia
Project Director: David Germano
PO Box 400195
Charlottesville, Virginia 22904
Tel: 4342423079
Fax: 4349241467
Email: dfg9w@virginia.edu
Web: www.thlib.org
The Tibetan and Himalayan Digital Library (THDL) uses information technology to create an innovative model for the interdisciplinary study of a world area, integrating branches of knowledge and expanding high-quality academic resources, and making them freely available. This project has made substantial progress in the first five months of the grant period and is perfectly on schedule. THDL is building online archives, communications tools and processes that extend scholars' digital desktops into large collaborative, multimedia and interdisciplinary digital library collections (text, image, video, audio, immersive, mapping, databases) available via the Web for free and integrated access. These include bibliographies, gazetteer, dictionaries, encyclopedias, and literary catalogs. FEDORA provides the digital library framework, and THDL's Scholar's Toolbox provides the powerful yet user-friendly suite of tools and processes that enable scholarly efforts to extend directly into the digital library's repositories. All tools are open source, based upon industry standards, and developed in an integrated manner. The aim is to create a common working and publishing environment that enables scholars with different disciplinary vantage points, types of data, and media resources, to collectively and collaboratively use and develop resources on Tibet and the Himalayas, so that we will build a truly interoperable series of collections. Such a system opens the door to a broad array of explicit and implicit collaborative activity in the humanities, which is not an academic area noted for its collaborative character.

The current TICFIA grant supports THDL's entire scope of activity, but also involves a specific focus on its development of a geographical model of the Tibetan and Himalayan plateau, which in turn forms the basis for integrating a wide variety of resources that are organized by place. When complete, the system that supports this model will allow users, starting from a place located in the Gazetteer or on a map, to view and utilize all resources relevant to that place: images, texts, audio-video recordings, bibliographies, maps, and more. Likewise, references to any of these places - such as the site where a photograph was taken, a map, or reference in an essay - are linked back to the Gazetteer entry, and through it, to all associated resources.

Building this system, and implementing it throughout THDL's media collections, is a central overarching focus of the present grant. A second overarching focus is the integration of THDL into FEDORA, which is emerging as one of the most powerful and well made open source digital library systems in the world. THDL was designed with FEDORA in mind from the start, but the actual migration of all its collections and tools into FEDORA repositories is a difficult and time consuming process that is now under way. A third overarching focus is the implementation of more sophisticated searching processes throughout the site, while also providing unique identifiers for all resources at a very granular level so a given resource can be easily cited and retrieved from any page within THDL. A fourth overarching focus is the development of an enhanced workflow management system that optimally supports staff activity - work plans, bug fixing, feature request development, and the like - and also provides collaborative tools for faculty and students working together on content issues, from planning to content creation to processing and implementation.

These overarching foci are creating a system that supports the development of myriad specific projects that then constitute an engine driving multiple streams of content into this integrated system. The University of Virginia (UVA) provides the technical repositories, guidelines, and logistical and technical support for these projects, for which the actual content generation is often based at other Universities. These range from hugely complex and ambitious projects, like the Sera Monastery project, to a more straightforward project of digitizing an image collection, to minor contributions such as a single bibliography, or a Gazetteer entry, and the like. As a whole, they are a remarkably diverse set of major and minor projects that will feed large amounts of high quality and diverse data into this integrated environment.

The world area covered is Tibet and the Himalayas, a massive geographical area between South and East Asia that constitutes a major portion of Asia. This includes large portions of the contemporary nation-states of Bhutan, China, India, Nepal, and Pakistan, the cultures of Tibet, Newar, Thangmi, Bhutan, Gyarong, Basum, Ladakh and others, and languages such as Tibetan, Nepali, Chinese, Thangmi, Newari, and Dzongkha. U.S. partners include the UVA, Cornell University, University of Chicago, UC-Santa Barbara, UCLA, Rice University, Columbia University, University of Alabama, Florida State University, Eastern Michigan University, University of Wisconsin, and others. Foreign partners include Cambridge University, Oxford University, University of Toronto, CNRS Lacito, Paris 8 University, Tibet Academy of Social Sciences, Tibet University, Tribhuvan University, and others.

Languages: Countries:
Chinese, Classical
Chinese, Mandarin
Disciplines: Subjects:
Architecture/urban and regional planning
Area studies
Art/art history
Computer/information science
Foreign languages and literature
Health sciences
Interdisciplinary studies
Religious studies
Women's studies
Area Studies
Dissertation Research
Distance Learning
Foreign Language Across the Curriculum
Foreign Language Programs (Domestic)
Foreign Language Programs (Overseas)
Instructional Materials
Interdisciplinary Studies
Less Commonly Taught Languages (LCTL)
Multidisciplinary Studies
Self-Instructional Language Programs