Anyone with access to a networked computer and some knowledge of Latin can publish texts on the Internet, in the sense of making a text publicly available, but almost all Latin texts currently online lack a critical apparatus, the hallmark of a reliable, scholarly edition. Those that do have a critical apparatus lack the backing of a scholarly publisher and the legitimation that comes from review by one’s peers.
Although editorial practices differ among scholars working on classical, medieval, and humanist texts, our user studies have demonstrated that there is general agreement that a viable digital format specifically for critical editions and commentaries of Latin texts, combined with a legitimate forum in which to publish them, would advance the field of Latin studies.
Accordingly, the mission of the Library of Digital Latin Texts is to provide standards, practices, and policies for creating, publishing, and working with born-digital critical editions of Latin texts from all eras.
Editions in the LDLT will be encoded in Extensible Markup Language (XML) according to the standards of the Text Encoding Initiative (TEI). The Digital Latin Library has established encoding guidelines specifically for critical editions of Latin texts. Since the learned societies affiliated with this project—the Society for Classical Studies, the Medieval Academy of America, and the Renaissance Society of America—set the standards for professional scholarship, their existing committees and boards for research and publications will review proposals for LDLT editions. Their concern will be primarily the quality of the textual scholarship, but they will also be concerned with the quality of the edition's data, since semantic markup of texts is just as much a scholarly activity as collating manuscripts or writing commentaries.
Recognizing the fact that most editors will not want to learn XML just to publish their editions in the LDLT, we are developing procedures for automating most, if not all of the tasks related to encoding. The goal is to allow editors focus on the task of editing. They might need to consult with DLL staff regarding the encoding of unique characteristics of their texts, but otherwise preparing an LDLT edition should be similar to preparing one for a traditional series in print.
Editions that meet the requirements of both traditional and digital scholarship will be published under the imprimatur of the SCS, MAA, or the RSA, depending on the era of the text. They will be version-controlled and openly available for use and reuse.
Users of LDLT will have three options for working with texts on the DLL's site. The LDLT Reading Room will feature a dynamic view of the text and critical apparatus. The LDLT Reading Room will have the ability to hide or show the critical apparatus and other features of the edition. Users who want to use morphological analysis tools and dictionaries can open an LDLT text in the DLL's Sandbox, a collaborative editing environment. Finally, users can import LDLT data into Chris Weaver's Improvise visualization application and use the sophisticated information visualization techniques and tools developed specifically for LDLT editions.