The Library Twinning Project was a long-term joint research project between The National Library of Bhutan and The Royal Library, Denmark, supported by Danida (Danish international development assistance), an area of activity under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Government of Denmark. The project was launched at the National Library in January, 1996 and finally brought to a close in October, 2010.
The main goal of the project was to catalogue, survey and ensure the preservation of Bhutanese and Tibetan books at the National Library in particular and in the temples and monasteries of Bhutan in general. Throughout this process, an institutional strengthening of the National Library took place in the form of modernization of methods and equipment, as well as enhancement of staff capacity.
Gregor Verhufen & Dr. P. K. Sørensen
During the first phase, 1996-1999, technical equipment was procured and installed, followed by workshops and training in classification, methodology and computer science. A database was developed and library staff were trained in the data input procedure of books and scripts, using the classification and cataloguing system developed by the project. Catalogue input of the entire holdings of the National Library began.
During the second phase, 1999-2001, catalogue input of the holdings of the National Library continued, specific research projects were started and a mobile literary survey of the texts preserved in temples and monasteries throughout the country was launched. This part of the project consisted of recording details of all texts found, and scanning, microfilming or digitally photographing certain of the texts preserved in each temple surveyed.
During the third phase, 2002-2007, input of the holdings of the National Library continued, reaching a total of 120,000 titles and subtitles by 2005. The mobile survey of texts continued, resulting in the publication of a catalogue of more than 3,000 texts preserved in the first seven districts surveyed. Conservation workshops were conducted and scholarly exchange took place between Denmark and Bhutan. An international conference, entitled Written Treasures of Bhutan: Mirror of the Past and Bridge to the Future, was held in Thimphu in 2005, hosted by the National Library and funded under the twinning project.
The fourth phase, 2008- 2010, focused on user-oriented access to the databases, while structural revision and consolidation of the catalogue and text data was taking place. The catalogue and other data were converted to ISO 10646 / Unicode encoding and moved to an Aleph library management system hosted by the Royal Library of Denmark. Our classification system was refined and improved. The mobile survey and specific research projects continued. The Proceedings of the 2005 conference were published in two volumes (for Dzongkha and English papers, respectively). Internal networks and internet access at the National Library were modernized. At Project closure in October, 2010, the Choekey Collection online database held approximately 120,000 records analysing the contents of 13,625 physical volumes, making it arguably the largest and most comprehensive worldwide in terms of numbers of records describing the contents of a Tibetan collection held in hard copy format.