(ANS – Rome) – In 2006, the then General Councilor for Social Communication, Fr Tarcisio Scaramussa, now Bishop, started a project for the digital preservation of Salesian materials. Fifteen years later, the principles that had been established at the time proved their permanent validity and the site, known as the Salesian Digital Library – or SDL – was recently relaunched, thanks to work that renewed the site’s visual presentation, updated the underlying software and significantly expanded the contents: currently there are over 200,000 resources, in a broad sense, but their number is potentially infinite!
Among the principles established for this work at the time were the following:
• The software had to be open-source, so that it was never subject to proprietary limits;
• Bit-level preservation of all digital objects had to be ensured to keep the original files intact;
• It was necessary to ensure that authenticity and sources were maintained;
• It was necessary to ensure adequate retention of information;
• The site had to be an institutional site, so that its existence was guaranteed by the Congregation itself.
The underlying software (known as “Greenstone Digital Library Software”) has been and continues to be developed and distributed with the collaboration of UNESCO and the NGO “Human Info”.
The most recent update (late 2020) has been enriched by an excellent and complete search engine, which allows the user to easily find any word, phrase or paragraph, both in the title and in the contents of any document present. If, for example, one were to go to the collection of the issues of the “Salesian Bulletin” (under the main group “Salesianity”), then every word becomes searchable in all the individual issues from the first edition of Don Bosco in 1877 to the most recent in 2020!
The navigation process has also been greatly improved, making it more intuitive, in 6 languages, and by groups, and the graphic design is also more user-friendly. In general terms, the site is presented in the six main languages of the Congregation, but the language, script and digital format of its contents are potentially unlimited.
The new SDL presents the user with six large icons of main groups (Don Bosco, Salesianity, Salesian Holiness, World Level, Multimedia, Headquarters). Each main group then provides access to the collections – up to now 43 collections, each containing thousands of digital objects: texts, images, audio, video.
The new SDL was presented today, January 22, to the General Council of the Congregation, by the administrator of the sdb.org site, Bro. Hilario Seo, SDB. The official launch will take place on January 24, the feast day of St. Francis de Sales.
You can reach the new SDL from sdb.org (in the “Resources” section of the top menu of www.sdb.org) or directly at: http://sdl.sdb.org
With this relaunch of SDL, the Department of Social Communication hopes to be able to give a strong impulse for the Salesians to take a step forward in the digital transformation, or to digitize objects and save digital materials in a shared way, to facilitate the creation of new resources through shared digital work.