Vatican Library will digitize its archives
The Vatican Library dates from the late 14th century and forms one of the world’s most important collections of historical documents. AP photoThe Vatican Library began a project last week to digitize thousands of historical manuscripts, dating from the origins of the Church to the 20th century, and make them available online.
Working with the Japanese technology group NTT Data, the library intends to scan and digitally archive about 1.5 million pages from the library’s collection of manuscripts, which comprises of some 82,000 items and 41 million pages. The initial project will take four years and may be extended.
The Vatican Library dates from the late 14th century and forms one of the world’s most important collections of historical documents. It includes 1.6 million books and large coin and picture collections, as well as its manuscript archives.
“The manuscripts that will be digitized extend from pre-Columbian America to China and Japan in the Far East, passing through all the languages and cultures that have marked the culture of Europe,” said Monsignor Jean-Louis Brugues, archivist and librarian of the Holy Roman Church.
NTT donates equipment
The library will use NTT scanners to record the manuscripts and archive software to manage the collection. Technicians from the Japanese company will work alongside Vatican librarians.
“At the end of the four years, the involvement of NTT could lead to a further phase of engagement which could cover the entire collection,” said Monsignor Cesare Pasini, prefect of the library.
The NTT is donating the equipment and the work of its technicians. NTT‘s head Toshio Iwamoto said the company was eager to participate “in an operation which will lead to the digitization and preservation of books and pages that could be considered global heritage, written between the second and 20th centuries.” The company is active in over 40 countries and is experienced in digitizing rare manuscripts.
The initial phase of the operation, worth some 18 million euros, is expected to cover some 3,000 handwritten documents over a four-year period, the NTT said.
The Vatican Library, founded in 1451, is one of the world’s most important research libraries. It has 180,000 manuscripts, 1.6 million books and 150,000 prints, drawings and engravings.