About THL > How to Participate > Volunteering Time to THL
by David Germano (September 1, 2008)
THL is a non-profit initiative whose survival is based on grants and volunteer activity. Its aim is to benefit Tibetan and Himalayan peoples, the field of Tibetan and Himalayan Studies, and the international public with an interest in Tibet and the Himalayas. THL is dependent upon people (scholars, students, librarians, others) contributing to the input, processing, checking and preparation of data so that it can be in the form necessary for it to be integrated fully into THL's collections. This includes typing in Tibetan texts, doing basic markup of texts that require minimal training, scanning journals, and so forth; it also includes such simple things as checking an online resource to make sure it works properly throughout. No technical background is necessary, and for many tasks even linguistic or content knowledge is not required.
please contact us at to let us know of your interest in volunteering time or to ask us any questions you may have. The present document details various types of volunteer tasks for which we are seeking help, including links to sample data, and/or as more detailed instructions when available. All contributions of time will be fully credited within THL's permanent online credits.
The following subsections offer just a few examples of needs we have - there are many others unmentioned, so contact us whatever your interest might be.
Editing – proofing for typos and more rigorous editing to improve grammar and clarity – is an endless process which is crucial for THL. We are constantly in need to editorial assistance in every area of THL – projects, documentation, essays, databases. Such editing can be at the very basic level of agreeing to comb through a specific area looking for basic problems of typos and fundamental confusion, or more advanced levels of providing thorough editing to help significantly improve the style, clarity and organization. All such work will be formerly credited within THL. For the time being, please contact us with your offer of assistance. We gradually plan to implement a system for documenting the level of editing each THL page or resource has received, and also in this context list out areas that we are in particularly dire need of editing assistance. Examples of such essays include:
- Submissions to the Journal of the International Association of Tibetan Studies.
- Submissions to the Encyclopedia of Tibet and the Himalayas
- Essays for specific THL-published websites on various topics
- Shorter passages that are part of larger databases (Tibetan dictionary, places studies, monastery studies, etc.)
- Summaries and/or translations of Tibetan texts
- Technical documentation
We have a constant need for editorial help in pre-posting editing of submissions in English. This can be done in Microsoft Word simply on the linguistic level, can include helping standardize submissions in Word in terms of styles and fonts, and can extend to more sophisticated markup of materials in XML. This can also include willingness to help Tibetan and Himalayan scholars improve their own work in English. Please contact us with your willingness to help. These include the same type of essays cited immediately above.
One of our most pressing needs is the inputting, proofing and markup of Tibetan texts, which requires at least intermediate level Tibetan skills. THL is also willing to facilitate the ordering of input texts from its Tibetan partners
However input texts require proofing and we have a backlog of texts requiring proofing. Proofing can be done at two levels. The first level can be done by any intermediate level student and involves looking for obvious typos in comparison to a print version. The second level requires a high degree of literary competency and deep expertise in the relevant tradition/genre, and involves a critical assessment of the edition beyond mere obvious typos. Thus we are seeking both types of proofers.
In addition, for electronic editions, we are marking up in XML so that citations are identified as citations, verse line as verse line, text titles as text titles and so forth. This work can be done in Word as well, and hence does not require any type of technical expertise. Markup of texts allows for advanced flexibility of display and searching.
There are many data gathering activities that are held back through a lack of time and which are of great potential benefit. These may involve either a survey of print resources, or involve actual solicitation of information from individuals and organizations using forms. Such things include:
- Documentation of Tibetan Buddhist Dharma Centers around the world
- Solicitation of self-representation about contemporary Tibetan Buddhist Monasteries outside of China
- Documentation of NGOs working in Tibet and the Himalayas
- Survey of Universities with Tibetan and Himalayan programs
- Other tasks - contact us
We need user assistance in checking specific resources in terms of missing links or other problems, as well as for general problems such as poor navigation processes or confusing interfaces. Please contact us with your willingness to help.
As we build the Encyclopedias of Tibet and the Himalayas, systematically locating references in extant scholarships, translations and primary source materials is just as important as soliciting original essays. Anyone can contribute to such work, since it can be as simple as combing through an English language translation for references to people or places. These citations are then either provided as bibliographical citations, or typed in, and keyed to the relevant Encyclopedia topic. All of the following can apply to scholarship, translations, or original literature form the region, and can theoretically be from materials in any language. This can be particularly easy when a printed book has a good index. The reference may be an incidental reference with no explication to an otherwise unknown person or place, or may be a superb chapter long discussion of a specific topic or person. Examples include:
- Find interesting or unusual references or synoptic overviews of people, places (villages, provinces, monasteries, mountains, etc.), and organizations (clans, sects, monasteries, etc.)
- Do the same for any other topic – artistic styles, environmental issues, literary genres, and many other topics
- Specific ideas: go through the English translation of the autobiography of Jamgon Kongtrul to extract information about places, etc.
- Other tasks - contact us either to ask for, or make, suggestions
The creation of bibliographies is central to THL both for citation from any THL resource, and as independent resources in their own right. Thus we are looking for volunteers to contribute Bibliographies, including possibly bibliographical essays on various topics and annotations to bibliographical records. Tasks include:
- Typing in and editing already determined bibliographies
- Collecting bibliographical references on a given topic
- Making summaries of items for their bibliographical records
- Writing an introduction to a thematic bibliography
- Cataloging and checking Web sites