Saturday, October 24, 2020

The Library of Digital Latin Texts

The Library of Digital Latin Texts

"Biblioteca medicea laurenziana interno 01" by I, Sailko. Licensed under CC BY 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons -

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 many Latin texts currently online lack a critical apparatus, the hallmark of a reliable, scholarly edition. Those that do have a critical apparatus usually 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 DLL's 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.

About the LDLT

The Library of Digital Latin Texts is published by the DLL on behalf of the following learned societies:

Under this partnership, the DLL maintains the platform, infrastructure, and encoding guidelines for the series; the organizations listed above oversee the process of receiving proposals for new editions, submitting them for peer review, and making decisions regarding publication.

LDLT editions are published as databases encoded in Extensible Markup Language (XML) according to the Guidelines for Encoding Critical Editions for the Library of Digital Latin Texts. The LDLT's encoding guidelines are a customization of the guidelines published and maintained by the Text Encoding Initiative (TEI).

The platform for publication of the official, canonical version of an LDLT edition is a version-controlled code repository. Editions are published on an open basis so that the data will be freely available for reuse.

Recognizing the fact that some 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.

Read more about the concept of an edition as data in this section on textual criticism and this blog post about the LDLT.

The LDLT Reading Room

Although XML documents are supposed to be human-readable, most readers will not want to experience LDLT editions in that format. That is why the DLL maintains the official LDLT Reading Room, an online application that makes editions available in a familiar, interactive web interface. The LDLT Reading Room includes the following features:

  • Integration with Alpheios Reading Tools for morphological and lexical analysis at the click of a button;
  • Interactive critical apparatus, allowing reader to evaluate variant readings in situ;
  • Filters to select the type(s) of information displayed on the screen.

A demonstration edition is available at


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