The BBT has a lot of valuable stuff–books, manuscripts, letters, photos, paintings, audio, videos, and more, some of it in the Bhaktivedanta Archives, some of it elsewhere. A lot of it is in digital form, some of it not.
Following the model for an Open Archival Information System, the BBT has begun a “Digital Repository” project.
Among its purposes:
- To put all the BBT’s stuff (as far as possible) into an up-to-date digital form, with suitable “metatags” to help in finding things.
- To archive all the stuff in one digital repository–one digital “box” (of course with backups).
- To keep all of Srila Prabhupada’s books in digital files we can supply to printers for publishing or use for ebooks and other formats.
- To provide a free, open-source, up-to-date replacement for the Folio VedaBase, both online and for personal computers (Windows, Mac, Linux, and so on).
Pancharatna Dasa is coordinating the project, greatly assisted by Sarva Thulasingam, a devotee in the Seattle area who works as an engineer for Microsoft.
They have decided to host the repository using DSpace, the open-source software platform most widely used by libraries and research institutions for purposes like ours.
Customizing our DSpace repository for our needs and getting all the stuff into it is a big job.
Here are some of the tasks for which we could use help right now:
- uploading various kinds of content as experiments
- designing XML schema (incorporating Dublin core metadata and complying with open eBook standards)
- writing a simple program to parse existing files, which encode diacritics and Devanagari with old standards, and convert them to Unicode
- figuring out a good taxonomy for content to be placed into the repository
- modifying CSS stylesheets for a custom look and feel
If you’re tech-savvy and would like to volunteer your help, please email email@example.com.