Digital distribution of Scripture reaches people where they are and engages people in the way they communicate, socialize, and learn. The Digital Bible Library® (DBL), serving as the core of the Every Tribe Every Nation (ETEN) alliance, forges ahead with the important tasks of translating, digitizing, aggregating and distributing Scripture so that lives may be transformed globally.
In Phase 1, there were more than 270 translations placed in the library, with an additional 780 translations scheduled for Phase 2. This means that by 2015, the Digital Bible Library will contain more than 1,050 translations, and by 2035 there will be a translation for most of the remaining languages in the world.
Location and Security
The Institute for Computer Assisted Publishing (ICAP) is an initiative sponsored by the United Bible Societies (UBS) and the Canadian Bible Society and provides support for the translation and Scripture publishing community. ICAP developed ParaTExt, the leading Bible translation software in the world. It is currently maintained jointly with SIL. ICAP has extensive experience in text archiving and conversion and a history of working with national Bible Societies. The knowledge and expertise accrued in this area serves as a foundation for the ongoing development of the Digital Bible Library.
The stored translations are more quickly available in a variety of platforms thanks to ETEN’s support. The platforms, including the Internet, mobile devices, e-books and print-on-demand, have all been approved by the copyright holders. DBL technical maintenance and support is handled by the ICAP group. Software upgrades, database backups and maintenance are all performed routinely.
The Digital Bible Library has protocols that secure all of its stored texts and digital files:
- All storage repositories are linked by common standards and agreed-upon protocols for access.
- All repositories in the network are replicated to ensure nothing is lost or corrupted.
- Each partner will be able to individually manage the access levels and copyrights for their digital files.
After completing the application process and gaining approval, the Digital Bible Library® applicants will be granted “library card” access to digital files and content.
Adding to the DBL
The ParaTExt Bible translation software is the entry point for DBL. There are two primary ways in which texts will enter the library.
- Bible Societies within the UBS fellowship use ParaTExt together with a translation management system that records all relevant information about the translation. When sending a translation to DBL, Bible Societies automatically upload the additional data (Metadata) in the proper format to the Library.
- Other Bible agencies (using ParaTExt, but not the UBS management system) can export the properly formatted files from ParaTExt and upload these files via a ParaTExt export module specifically written to connect to the library.
Ethnologue: Languages of the World is a global catalog of all the world’s known human languages. The information in the Ethnologue is gathered and distributed by SIL International (formally known as the Summer Institute of Linguistics, Inc.). Languages in the global catalog are defined using the ISO 639-3 code. The ISO 639-3 code assigns three-letter codes for all the known living languages. To learn more about the Ethnologue, visit the website at: https://www.ethnologue.com/
Furthermore, the Global Bible Catalogue is a comprehensive list of Bible translations from around the world. Find out more: http://globalbiblecatalogue.org/
Common Digital Format
The need has never been greater for a market-wide digital Bible format to become the standard. While many different digital formats have existed, the Digital Bible Library text format now being used across the partnering organizations will quickly define the standard and set the stage for rapid development of digital Bible tools.
When preparing a Bible for print, readability is a major concern, which leads to a level of complexity. That’s because most Bibles contain another hierarchical structure that defines paragraphs, poetical lines, quotes, and other formatting elements. These two hierarchies—book/chapter/verse and formatting for readability—overlap each other.
This overlapping structure is very difficult to describe using XML, as XML is strictly a hierarchical language. The suitability of the format is, in many ways, determined by the intended use of the text. For print use or even digital display of Scripture by chapter, formatting based on readability is ideal. However, the display of properly formatted individual verses may be better defined with a book/chapter/verse hierarchy.
Digitizing Existing Translations
Many existing translations of Scripture are scheduled to become part of the Digital Bible Library. The DBL allows for an accelerated translation process, shrinking the time necessary to create and continue these translations. The growth and accessibility of technology allows for the Scripture translations to be converted and written faster than ever before. Some of these translations already exist as digital files and need only to be converted to the proper format. Other translations may exist only in a print-ready format that does not contain complete metadata and will need to be converted. Still other translations do not even exist in a digital format and require data entry.
Quality Assurance and Rights Management
Any digital file stored in the Digital Bible Library must meet a strict standard of quality. The founding Bible agencies bring 500 years of combined experience in working with translations around the world, and their expertise is well documented. For this reason, cardholders can be sure that the translations and other digital files found on the shelves are faithful to the biblical text. After all, we have high standards when it comes to God’s Word, which is why you can trust the Digital Bible Library seal of approval. Find out more on the Founding Partners page.
The Digital Bible Library streamlines the process of rights acquisition through standardized agreements with copyrights holders. Each license holder has the control to grant or revoke access to a platform provider through the Digital Bible Library interface.
The ultimate goal of the DBL and ETEN is to reach and transform everyone in the world with God’s Word in their heart language. Since the “library card holders” are platform providers rather than end users, each provider reports statistics and measurements of how their end users are interacting with their sites and applications. This allows us to gauge Bible engagement. Because of the wide scope of the project, the specific metrics vary depending on the type of application and medium (mobile, desktop, web, audio, video, etc.).
Furthermore, we monitor the increasing numbers of intellectual property contributors as well as library card holders. The rising number of contributors and active uses illustrates the growing number of people impacted with God’s Word. Monitoring the accelerated pace of translations is a key to measuring success for the DBL. This allows the DBL and ETEN to grow and become more effective in the ultimate goal. We want each and every person to be engaged with Scripture.