In January, a working group of members from the Society for Classical Studies (then the American Philological Association), the Medieval Academy of America, and the Renaissance Society of America submitted a proposal to the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for a planning grant "to determine the feasibility of creating a comprehensive working instrument for students of Latin, from the beginnings to the Renaissance, tentatively called the Digital Latin Library (DLL)."
In May, the AWMF notified us that we had received the planning grant. We had our first full meeting of the working group in July in Philadelphia. The second meeting was in December in Norman, OK. The third meeting was in May 2013 in Philadelphia. In between those meetings, a smaller group of scholars met in Norman to discuss plans for implementing the various parts of the DLL.
By the end of the planning period, the working group decided that the DLL project was worth pursuing. They appointed Samuel J. Huskey as the director of the project, and they established the University of Oklahoma, where Huskey has a faculty appointment, as the project's institutional home.
In January, the OU DLL team submitted a proposal to the AWMF for for the initial year of a projected three-year path to full implementation of all components of the DLL, "a Linked Open Data (LOD) online resource for finding, reading, discussing, studying, teaching, editing, annotating, and publishing Latin texts of all eras." The AWMF funded the proposal and work began in July. In addition to co-PI's Huskey, Abbas, and Weaver at OU, the DLL team included several graduate and undergraduate research assistants and three subcontractors: Hugh Cayless (Duke Collaboratory for Classical Computing), Tom Elliott (NYU-ISAW), and Alex Ward (independent IT developer).
During this funding period, the DLL team produced a user behavior study to collect information on how potential users of the DLL use resources that are currently available on the Internet. June Abbas conducted detailed interviews of several different types of users so that we would have information on what people do and do not like about the resources they use. With help from a graduate assistant, June organized and analyzed the results and produced a set of data for use in the implementation phase.
To aid in the development of the data model for the DLL's critical editions, Huskey and a team of research assistants reverse-engineered an existing critical edition and encoding it in XML according to the standards of the Text Encoding Initiative. The edition selected for this part of the project was Giarratano's edition of Calpurnius Siculus' Bucolica, since it is short (seven poems), has a full critical apparatus, and includes practically everything that a text editor might encounter while compiling a critical edition (line transpositions, corrections, a complex manuscript tradition, etc.). We will use this edition to test the various components of the DLL over the next two years of the project.
Chris Weaver and his graduate research assistants refactored the libraries for his Improvise visualization application in preparation for development of a series of visualization tools for use with DLL editions.
Abbas, Huskey, and Weaver evaluated a number of potential applications for the DLL's catalog, bearing in mind data from the user studies.
Several experts in the field of textual criticism came to Norman to record videos for the DLL's video library.
The DLL convened several scholars for a seminar on Latin textual criticism in the digital age.
In January, the OU DLL team submitted a proposal to the AWMF for a two-year implementation grant to build and implement the Digital Latin Library (DLL).
By the middle of 2017, we will deliver a collection of resources collectively known as the Digital Latin Library (digitallatin.org):
In the first year, Abbas, with input from Huskey and Weaver, will oversee the work of two graduate assistants working toward full implementation of the DLL catalog. The goal is to launch a limited public beta version, with a strong core of authors, texts, and other resources available for browsing by the fall of 2016.
Once the beta version of the DLL is complete, Abbas and her assistants will conduct usability testing with a set of users from the three user groups convened for our current user studies (Latin scholars, graduate students, and high school teachers of Latin). The results of the usability testing will be used to refine the catalog record structure and DLL interface in the final months of the project.
By the end of the project, the DLL catalog’s records of various kinds will number in the thousands to tens of thousands.
Full implementation of the LDLT will begin with iterative testing and refinement of the text entry tools and visualization techniques designed and built during the planning period. This work will occur in tandem with the work of the editors of the pilot editions so that detailed feedback on the utility and usability of candidate techniques in the creation and verification of the pilot editions can be collected in real time.
During this phase, Weaver and his graduate research assistants will integrate the most promising techniques into a set of demonstration visualization tools. As the desirable features of these tools start to converge into a coherent set, we will iteratively implement, test, and refine a sequence of full-featured tools having various combinations of text display and querying features, culminating in the design and implementation of a complete desktop application in the final year of the project.
In parallel to this effort on the technical side, Huskey will work with the advisory board to solicit proposals for three pilot editions, one from each of the three learned societies, so that we will have more than just a sample critical edition when we launch the LDLT in 2017. We will solicit proposals for editions early in the first phase of the implementation stage so that there will be time for the research and publication boards of the learned societies to review them before we begin development. We will need to recruit editors with projects that are complete or nearly complete so that we can focus on bringing them into line with the LDLT’s specifications instead of developing them ab ovo. To support the work of these editors, we will bring them together in Norman for a two-day workshop in the fall of 2015 so that we can introduce them to the workflow, provide some training in the use of the data entry tools, and answer any questions they might have.
So that the LDLT will have more editions in the pipeline, Huskey will work with the LDLT advisory board to refine the guidelines and editorial policies that the SCS, the MAA, and the RSA will follow in soliciting and vetting future LDLT editions. He will also pursue opportunities to fund post-doctoral fellowships in classics to cultivate a new generation of textual scholars for the LDLT.
Cayless, with input from Ward, Elliott, and Huskey, will spend the early months of the project review the user and information behavior studies conducted during the planning period and draw up requirements for the reading room, annotation service, and sandbox area of the web site. He will work on an initial prototype of the reading room to elicit further requirements for it and for the annotation service.
Beginning in 2016, Cayless will begin working on customizing the Perseids platform for use on digitallatin.org. Using the test critical edition created during the planning phase and any materials available from the pilot editions, he will begin integration and testing of the site components in the summer of 2016. The fall of 2016 will be devoted to further development of the reading room environment, with the goal of having a strong prototype available for display at the annual meetings of the SCS, MAA, and RSA in 2017. The remainder of the grant period will be spent refining and documenting the applications.