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Jun 18
Atlantic Canada, Mandala Projects, Sakyong and Family
Preserving the Vidyadhara Forever

 Carman Carroll, for whom the award is named, was the Provincial Archivist in Nova Scotia. Here, he presents to Carolyn Gimian and Gordon Kidd.

Carman Carroll, for whom the award is named, was the Provincial Archivist in Nova Scotia. Here, he presents to Carolyn Gimian and Gordon Kidd.

Shambhala Archives is Honored with Award for the Audio Recovery Project

By Carolyn Gimian, with Jennifer Holder contributing

On Friday, June 11, the Shambhala Archives received the Carman V. Carroll Award for Outstanding Achievement in Archival Preservation from the Council of Nova Scotia Archives. The goal of the award is to foster an appreciation of preservation and recognize its place as a vital aspect of the daily operations of any archival effort. Specifically, the Shambhala Archives received the award for their Audio Recovery Project, which is dedicated to preserving and digitizing the audio recordings of the Vidyadhara, Venerable Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche.

The Shambhala Archives is deeply honoured to have received this award. Gordon Kidd — Technical Director of the archives, and Carolyn Gimian — Director Emeritus and Past President of the Council of Nova Scotia Archives, represented the entire team by accepting the award at the June 11th ceremony.

An Overview of the Effort
The collection held within the Shambhala Archives includes one of the largest libraries of Buddhist audio recordings in North America. The Archives launched the Audio Recovery Project in 2004 to preserve and digitize more than 3,000 audio recordings – originally recorded as reel-to-reel, standard cassettes, and micro cassettes. To preserve Chogyam Trungpa’s teachings, staff rewound all the existing analogue tapes, cleaned them, and reformatted them into analogue form, or into one of many digital formats. While preserving the original recordings, the Audio Recovery Project also created digital preservation copies and copies that are accessible for general use. As a stunning finale, and in tribute to the power of the Vidyadhara’s teachings, the audio recordings have been preserved for at least 100 years on gold CDs. Hard drives back up all digital files, and MP3 versions are being made in order to provide copies of the recordings for general use and easy distribution.

Preserving, Distributing, and Enriching the Mandala
Shambhala Centres throughout North America, Europe, and Asia — as well as Naropa University and other institutions close to the Shambhala mandala, have received a selection of the archived material on CDs. To provide these copies to these “offsite libraries,” the Archives duplicated more than 35,000 CDs. The Archives also created a set of 3,000 gold CDs which were placed in a special room in the Great Stupa of Dharmakaya for very long term preservation. This traditional Buddhist monument, located in Colorado at Shambhala Mountain Center, was consecrated in 2000 to honor and invoke the Vidyadhara’s life, teachings, and presence in perpetuity. These CDs were ceremonially installed in the Stupa during a speech empowerment ceremony in summer, 2008. Click here for photos and a description of the ceremony to install the CDs.

Celebrating Completion
The majority of the Archives’ work was done over four years with a total budget of $250,000. While initial research and trials were conducted in 2004/ 2005, the work commenced full time in 2006 — and was completed in 2009.

Celebrating Archives Staff
The dedicated staff — who contributed their expertise and skills throughout the magical 4+ years of the project, included: Gordon Kidd, Technical Director; Chris Levy, the , Digital Engineer who worked with Gordon to design and implement the technology that made the project possible; and Sandra Kipis, the Archives Assistant who administered the project and the duplicated of material. . Several students also worked on the project during the summer through a smattering of grants and other programs. Carolyn Gimian led the fundraising charge, and communicated with Shambhala Centres through newsletters and updates.

With tremendous dedication, tenacity, and ingenuity throughout the project, these staff members managed to preserve and distribute one of the greatest gifts to humankind – the stream of dharma as it was planted in the West by a master of mind and phenomenon, the Vidyadhara, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche.

Shambhala Archive's engineer, Chris Levy, demonstrates the Audio Recovery System to the head of Public Television, Puerto Rico.

Shambhala Archive's engineer, Chris Levy, demonstrates the Audio Recovery System to the head of Public Television, Puerto Rico.

How the Technology Made Everything Possible
The Audio Recovery Project models a low-cost approach to preserving audio recordings, which can be used by many small and medium-sized institutions.

In 2006, the Shambhala Archives teamed up with Media Matters—a technical consultancy in Manhattan that specializes in archival audio and video projects to fly the head honcho of Puerto Rico’s Public Television station to Nova Scotia to learn the technology that made this project work. The head of Media Matters, Jim Lindner, wrote to thank us:

I would like to offer my sincere congratulations at putting together a very cohesive system for your project – one that will get the job done in a very cost-efficient way. I wanted to thank you for your great generosity in sharing your success with me and CPRDP (Public Television Puerto Rico) and very much appreciate your help.

In June 2008, Gordon Kidd and Chris Levy, were invited by the Canadian Conservation Institute (CCI) to participate in a one day workshop on digital media preservation strategies in Ottawa, all expenses paid. The work of the Shambhala Archives in this area was identified by CCI as a model project in Canada. Chris’s report on the visit follows:

The Shambhala Archives joined two other national institutions in a one-day workshop to discuss the strategies employed by each and how they might be of benefit to other smaller organizations. CCI and others were quite impressed with our strategies and methods, and how they show that it is possible to undertake such a large project with a modest budget.

In May 2008, Chris was invited to conduct an information session at the Nova Scotia Council of Archives in Halifax. He was able to share information with organizations from all around the Maritimes about the Audio Recovery Project. Other institutions have also shown interest in our low-cost but high-quality approach to audio preservation and digitization.

Teaming Up in an Exemplary Way
This philosophy of outreach and the sharing of best practices has transformed how audio recordings are preserved and distributed throughout the world. It has garnered the attention of libraries and media, bringing resources and acknowledgement.

So on June 11, when the Shambhala Archives’ Audio Recovery Project was recognized by the Nova Scotia provincial archives council, a loop was closed as the locals acknowledged a treasure in their midst.


May the project be ever enlightening, sharing dharma and a process for making it accessible to the many generations who will arrive with curiousity about how Shambhala came to be.

Carolyn Gimian is a freelance writer and editor living in Halifax, Nova Scotia. She is the Director Emeritus of the Shambhala Archives and the Director of the Chogyam Trungpa Legacy Project. Carolyn is one of the senior editors of the work of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche.

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