Tuesday, 28 October 2008

A Short History of the Treasury of Wisdom

Before 1997, each national Rigpa was responsible for archiving the recordings of their teaching events (which very often led to rather chaotic archives, all of which where organized according to different principles).

Rigpa International started the international archive in 1995 in London and Berlin with Heidi Lindstedt (texts), Janine (transcripts), and Jeannie (AV)). The project was funded privately until the end of 1996. In the Spring of 1997 the project moved to Lodeve. At that point, the employees were Heidi Lindstedt (for text files) and Andrea Philipp for the physical archive of audio tapes. Video tapes were added to the physical archive in 1998. The photo archive was taken care of by Pete Fry in his spare time.

Heidi has spend a big part of her time with sorting out the messy archive of text files from the first 20 years of Rigpa history (some 300,000 (!) files). Most of Andrea’s time was spent with fulfilling the demands of audio copies that where needed. At this point, there was no Rigpa IT department in existence, and non of the archive staff ever had sufficient time to specify the needs of an archive database, or to supervise its design. As a result, there was no database back then of all audio or video tapes.

The archive continued with a two-person-staff until around 2005. The archive staff always struggled between the different tasks of the library service and the actual building of a proper archive. Due to the pressure of the different clients of the archive, the library service had to be prioritised over building an archive. As a result, the Audio and Video archive never had a chance to be properly systematised. Also, apart from some isolated volunteer efforts, the archive never managed to start the proper digitising of old audio and video recordings.

Only in Spring 2005, when ZAM moved premises, the Treasury of Wisdom got a new half-time employee (Alain Bordes) who created a good set-up for audio and video digitising stations. Also, Andrea who had been on maternity leave and then on a 20% position was given a half-time position.

Also, in 2005, we started using our new archive database, DSpace. The first entries were done during the visit of Kyabjé Trulshik Rinpoche in November-December 2005.

Pete Fry found almost no time to work on the photo archive form 1997-2007, so in the summer of 2007 we employed Simon Day on a 60% position on as a photo archivist. He started to establish a procedure for the photo archive and started to create a functional network of Rigpa photographers. It is thanks to his efforts that we have a good photographic record of the visit of His Holiness in 2008.

In an attempt to finally start to deal with the 30-year backlog of AV recordings, the Treasury of Wisdom put a 4-month taskforce into place at the beginning of 2008 which managed to enter events, session information and daily session reports of the events from 2001-2008. Also, we hired a programmer to update DSpace and make it ready for more types of documents.

Finally, as part of the restructuring of Rigpa International, the Teaching Notes Archive Work has been put into the Treasury of Wisdom Department in 2007.

Just for fun, here is a photo of some of the Rigpa International staff from Losar 2003, including Heidi Lindstedt and Claudia Thurn from the Treasury of Wisdom staff back then.

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