Berzin Archives Year-end Letter 2013
1 January 2014
Dear Readers and Supporters of Berzin Archives,
At the start of the New Year, I want to take this opportunity to thank every one of you who has helped contribute to the continuing growth and success of the Berzin Archives web site project. Through your interest and support, we have continued to be the largest provider of authentic, free-of-charge information about Tibetan Buddhism and culture on the Internet.
During this last year, our twelfth online, we have continued expanding, trying to offer the invaluable wisdom of Tibet to as wide an interested audience as possible. To meet this goal, we have added in 2013 Mongolian, Japanese and Hindi sections, and in a few days our Tibetan section will go live as well. That makes a total of 19 languages online, all of which are accessible to the blind. Work on our next language sections – Persian and Pakistani Punjabi – is well underway.
The 1.8 million visits to the web site this past year from 215 countries and territories attest to the growing interest in Tibetan-related material throughout the world. The main sources of our visits have been USA (27.4%), Russia (9.5%), Brazil (7.9%), Germany (6.3%), Spain (5.8%), Mexico (3.9%) and Indonesia (3.7%).
Perhaps our most outstanding accomplishment this year has been the amount of new material added to the website by our tireless team of 120 workers (48 paid, 72 volunteer). We have added 1,279 new items (970 written, 206 audio, and 103 video), which is a 29.4% increase over last year. Altogether in all our language sections, we now have 5,630 individual items online. The most popular language sections accessed have been English (28.6%), Spanish (11.5%), Russian (8.4%), German (6.6%), Portuguese (6.0%), Indonesian (5.1%) and Arabic (2.0%).
Work on our audio transcripts is also proceeding at a fast pace. The transcripts of practically all of the 476 audio files of weekend seminars are now online, providing access to this vast store of material to all our deaf visitors. We have integrated the weekly courses into the main structure of the web site, and added titles for each of the classes in preparation for putting their transcripts online.
On the technical side, we have improved the navigation for our multimedia items and created a sophisticated network for our systems management. We have solved the issue of making older versions of Windows display Tibetan font properly. Further, our Arabic team has translated our glossary, which is now online. The pop-up window feature is now available in all Arabic articles, providing readers with the definitions of the Buddhist technical terms in Arabic.
The most exciting development is that we have recently hired a project developer to begin work on planning version 3.0 of the web site. The new version will improve usability and expand the web site into also serving as a modern online educational tool. We are exploring possibilities that will help us meet the needs of our visitors. You can help make the site be of more benefit by offering your suggestions for improvement and for additional features via our Berzin Archives Facebook page. You can also participate there in user surveys and testing.
This new project will require expanding our team even further and increasing our budget. Through your kind and generous support we have come so far in twelve years. With your continuing support, I am confident that we can go further and meet the challenges that lie ahead. Let’s make the wisdom of Tibetan truly available to all.
With best wishes for a healthy and happy new year,