ANN ARBOR – The Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism, co-authored by University of Michigan Professor Donald Lopez, has been awarded the prestigious Dartmouth Medal for 2015, which honors the most outstanding reference work of the past year according to the American Library Association (ALA).
“If you can apply the word ‘elegant’ to a reference work, this would be the book,” said the ALA in their award announcement.
The dictionary, co-authored with Robert E. Buswell of UCLA, features more than 5,000 entries totaling more than a million words on Buddhism and is the most comprehensive book of its kind in English. It draws from a burgeoning body of scholarship on the religion around the world, as well as centuries of Buddhist literature.
The selection committee praised The Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism for its accessibility to novices as well as its suitability for experts and academics, and for its extensive coverage of the religion, which was born on the Indian subcontinent more than two and a half millennia ago.
“Robert Buswell and I are deeply honored to have our twelve years of labor on The Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism recognized by the prestigious Dartmouth Medal,” Lopez says of the award. “One of our aims for the dictionary was to represent the Buddhist traditions of Korea and Tibet as extensively as those of India, Southeast Asia, China, and Japan. We wanted to give readers a full sense of the depth, breadth, and richness of the Buddhist traditions over its entire history and its geographical expanse.”
Lopez is the A.E. Link Distinguished University Professor of Buddhist Studies and chair of the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of Michigan. He and Buswell, another prominent scholar of Buddhism, spent more than a dozen years writing the book, which includes terms from all of the canonical Buddhist languages, including Sanskrit, Pali, Tibetan, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean.
The Dartmouth Medal is the latest in a line of accolades for the work; it was also named by Choice as one of the Top 25 Academic Books of 2014. The Dartmouth Medal will be presented at the ALA Annual Conference in San Francisco in June.
“[The dictionary] is a project that has many great story lines: collaborative research, bicoastal—or at least bi-time zone—cooperation, the power of the public research university, and graduate students as fully acknowledged contributors to a major work of scholarship,” says Lopez. “And it’s proof that everything we hear about the death of the humanities is nonsense.”