International Journal on Digital Libraries

Special Issue on: Digital Libraries, Epigraphy, and Paleography:

Manuscripts submission due date: October 1, 2021
Anticipated publication date: February 1, 2022

Bringing Records from the Distant Past to the Present
Written expression is the most common form of recording and communicating the
human experience of life on earth. This special issue will be concerned with written
and inscribed works, from the earliest markings on stone and cave walls to the
brilliantly crafted and elaborately illustrated manuscripts created by scribes in the
centuries prior to the printed era. Epigraphy and Paleography research contributes
new information to long-established fields in the humanities, social sciences, and the
arts by studying writings, in many forms, that pre-date the print era. Many of these
ancient works have been damaged, partially destroyed, or in extreme states of
deterioration. While museums and libraries maintain numerous small collections, a
larger number are scattered about, located around the world, lacking provenance
information, improperly referenced, and held in poorly maintained physical
environments. And perhaps most importantly, unknown and inaccessible to scholars
for whom these might be of great value.

Digital libraries research and development have had a transformative effect on these
two areas, along with those disciplines that draw upon them. It is now feasible, both
technologically and economically, to create extremely accurate digital facsimiles of a
wide variety of cultural heritage materials and, in many cases, increase the scholarly
value of the originals while leaving them undamaged, intact, and unaltered. New
techniques for digitally reconstructing, remediating, and restoring manuscripts and
scrolls have rendered many of these fully legible and coherent for the first time.
Some accomplishments were dramatic, such as the digital unrolling and deciphering
of scrolls turned to charcoal by flash combustion. Seminal funding for research on
digital restoration and remediation of cultural artifacts and ancient written works was
provided by digital libraries research programs. The advantages of digital versions of
inscribed materials are manifest. They can be stored, copied, disseminated and
shared, allowing students and scholars worldwide to collaborate on the analysis and
interpretation of invaluable inscribed works for which direct access is not possible.

Basic repository standards offer memory institutions the means to link collections
with others of the kind, provided that acceptable cross-institutional arrangements can
be made.

Digital libraries technologies can offer much more by adding additional identity,
structure, representation, and relational properties at the data element level – words,
graphemes, illustrations, maps, and other elements making up the larger whole. For
the scholar then, enhanced linking capabilities across mixed-media collections can
enhance the data gathering and analysis stages of the workflow. At the same time,
new toolsets become available for use and, in some cases, automate what were
normally manual tasks. As a result, a scholar in one location can access, search and
gather information from a large number of geographically distributed repositories and
collaborate with peers in real-time. The benefits of these capabilities cannot be
overstated. The impact is such that research that would have taken years to
accomplish only a few decades ago can now be completed in a matter of months.

Moreover, open access journals and open data practices provide for rapid dissemination of findings. Collaboration and unencumbered access to digital
libraries sustain the interdisciplinary dialogues that move scholarly work forward.
The complementarity of digital libraries and epigraphy, and paleography is farreaching and likely to provide new models for other studies. Epigraphy is taken here
to focus on pre-codex inscriptions – establishing the origins and context of creation
with the aim of producing a readable, coherent work. Paleography focuses, in part,
on hand-written manuscripts created prior to the print era. Like epigraphic scholars,
paleographic scholars are concerned with the origins, and circumstances that
motivated the creation of the work, with a primary interest in bringing to light the
original inscriptions as well as those markings added by readers in the centuries
following the creation of the work. Understanding the meaning and significance of
the written content can then be studied by historians and other domain scholars.
There is considerable overlap that supports transdisciplinary work. Taken together,
the advances in the past several decades have led to a rapid creation of new primary
source materials, enhanced access methods and new epistemological frameworks
for evidence-based research in the digital humanities.

Topics of interest include, but are not limited to:
• Digital libraries of ancient written works
• Innovative tools for access, retrieval, browsing, navigation and linking to external sites
• Research related to creating digital facsimiles of inscribed cultural artifacts and end-toend workflow descriptions
• Multi-disciplinary requirements for remediation and recovery of textual content from
inscribed artifacts
• International collaborative projects to aggregate and link digital collections of
• Consortium arrangements and management mechanisms
• State-of-the-art applications of digital libraries tools and services for epigraphy and
paleography research
• Applications of computer vision, computer graphics, and information visualization tools
for rendering inscribed artifacts
• Interoperability requirements: metadata definitions, syntactic and semantic standards
• Data stewardship to develop sustainable collections and promote reuse of data assets
• Scholarly impact of specific projects and future needs and opportunities

Important Dates:
Manuscripts submission due date: October 1, 2021
Reviewing submitted manuscripts starts immediately after submission, and manuscripts
appear online as Online First articles soon after acceptance.
Anticipated publication date: February 1, 2022

Submission Guidelines:
• Authors are invited to submit original manuscripts that have not been published and
arenot currently under review by other journals or conferences. Authors will be asked
for their help to review other manuscripts submitted to this special issue due to their
expertise in the field of this special issue.
• Manuscripts need to be prepared according to the Instructions for Authors provided on
the IJDL online submission page at manuscripts will be
peer-reviewed according to the IJDL reviewing procedure. Note that the page limit of
manuscripts is 12 (double column format).
• During the submission procedure in Editorial Manager
 International Journal on Digital Libraries
(, at the submission step
'Additional Information', authors should select the special issue title.
• Special issues are reviewed and published on a "fast track" basis. Prior to sending
fullmanuscripts, it is highly recommended to query their appropriateness for the
specialissue from the guest editors whose contact information is provided below.

Guest Editors:
Stephen M Griffin, Independent Scholar (prev. NSF, LoC, University of Pittsburgh),
[log in to unmask] (Lead Guest Editor)
Michael Lesk, Rutgers University, [log in to unmask]
Ιmilie Page-Peron, Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative, [log in to unmask]
Brent Seales, Director, Center for Visualization and Virtual Environments, University of
Kentucky, [log in to unmask]
Maria Zemankova (prev. NSF, Program Director Database Systems, retired)