The Digital Loeb Classical Library — a view from Europe

The full text of “the Digital Loeb Classical Library — a view from Europe,” is available here.

Summary: The Digital Loeb Classical Library has gone live and many students of Greek and Latin are testing it. “The Digital Loeb Classical Library — a view from Europe” considers some of the issues that the new DLCL raises. First, there is the general question of how long the community will support new, proprietary systems, each with their own environment, none releasing their data under an open license, and all incompatible, for all practical purposes, with each other. More generally, this essay explores three issues that the DLCL raises in a European context: (1) the problem of depending upon, and actively supporting, commercial sources of Greek and Latin, especially in Europe, where tax dollars support virtually all professional intellectual life; (2) the problem of using English if we want to reach secondary schools — only about 5% (probably less) of those who study Greek and Latin do so in English; (3) the problem of encouraging students to produce annotations that are keyed to the idiosyncratic page breaks that appear only in the Loeb editions (and thus of implicitly making the Loeb a new standard for citation). Overall, the DLCL is yet another publisher’s portal, solid in implementation and not challenging to use, but dependent models from print, such as monopoly control of content to extract subscriptions and the print page as dominant metaphor.

The study of Greek and Latin needs to build upon what we already can see is possible in a digital space and to move forward if we are to offer a truly competitive discipline to new generations of students and to the general public. Some of the issues and opportunities before us are raised in the call for papers in Greek and Latin in an Age of Open Data, but there are many fora in which to discuss how to move forward. It is time for students of Greek and Latin to get on with it and accelerate the transition to a more open, sustainable and dynamic environment by which to advance the role of Greco-Roman culture in the intellectual life of society.

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