Cataloging all of the Latin texts available online is a vast undertaking. Fortunately, several other projects have already taken on portions of this work. Our survey of existing resources has revealed that several sites provide a catalog of links to texts either on the same server (e.g., The Latin Library, PHI Classical Latin Texts) or elsewhere on the Internet (e.g., Corpus Scriptorum Latinorum), but their organizational schemes are idiosyncratic and they do not use metadata in a standard way to facilitate searching. In general, these projects were developed before the advent of Linked Data, described by Bizer, Heath, and Berners-Lee as “a set of best practices for publishing and connecting structured data on the Web.” For this reason, these earlier projects are more or less closed systems that do not attempt to interact with other resources in a sophisticated manner.
The Perseus Digital Library, however, has long been a model of organization, and it adheres to best practices in data management. A new development from that project is the Perseus Catalog, which aims “to provide coverage of Greek, Latin, and ultimately other literatures in a way that [is] suitable to a digital age.” It is making good on that promise by using the standards and practices commonly accepted in the discipline of library and information science. The connection of both of these projects with the Open Philology Project will dramatically expand the amount of Greek and Latin readily available to anyone connected to the Internet. Similarly, the Classical Works Knowledge Base (CWKB) aims to provide “data about ancient Greek and Latin texts from Homer (8 c. BC) to Bede (mid 8 c. AD), [and] information for their retrieval from the Thesaurus Linguae Graecae, Perseus Library, and Brepols Library of Latin Texts.” It, too, is using metadata standards and best practices to organize its information. During our current planning phase, we have been in conversations with leaders of both projects to determine how we can work together for mutual advancement of our goals.
Despite the good work already in progress by the projects mentioned above, in this age of easy access to information, readers of Latin at all levels still resort to asking friends and colleagues if a text or commentary is available for a specific text. Indeed, that is one of the most common queries on the discussion lists and social media groups for Latin teachers. To make it easier to find texts and commentaries, the DLL Catalog will provide a curated, standards-based resource completely devoted to Latin texts of all eras and types.
With the ever-widening adoption of Linked Open Data, there is no reason to duplicate the efforts of other projects working in the same space or to attempt to compete with them. Rather, the DLL will be a contributing partner in the worldwide effort to provide comprehensive coverage of Latin texts. General catalogs such as the Digital Public Library of America and Europeana provide access to Latin texts of all types in the world’s greatest libraries. The more specialized Perseus Catalog and CWKB focus on both Greek and Latin texts from the classical period through late antiquity, and the Open Philology Project is adding Greek and Latin texts all the way through the early modern period.
The DLL will complement these efforts in a number of ways. For example, while the Open Philology Project focuses on expanding the sheer amount of Greek and Latin works available online by digitizing as many printed editions as possible, the DLL’s mission is to aid in the discovery and use of those works by providing a curated catalog with interfaces built specifically for people interested in finding and using Latin texts. The purpose of our user behavior studies during the current planning phase was to determine the set of features that would be most useful for students, teachers, and scholars of Latin. Although we are still analyzing the results, it is clear that faceted browsing based on author, work, genre, era, type (e.g., literary, documentary, critical edition, commentary, etc.), subject, file format, and availability (open, paid) is one of the most highly desirable features. Since Latin is the focus of the DLL, we can devote more attention to offering a finer degree of granularity in these facets, in turn making Latin texts on any site all the easier to discover and use.
In other words, much as the Digital Public Library of America provides a portal of access to resources in libraries across the United States, the DLL Catalog will provide a portal of access to Latin texts available across the World Wide Web.