Vatican to Digitize Documents

A hat tip to my friend Brad West for pointing me to this Mashable story from April 20th that anticipates the digitization of the Vatican library archives:

Digitizing the Vatican’s 40 million pages of library archives will take 50 experts, five scanners and many, many years before the process comes to a close. The Vatican Library was founded in 1451 and has around 82,000 manuscripts, some of which date back about 1,800 years. It will work in tandem with NTT Data, a Japanese IT firm, to convert the first batch of 3,000 manuscripts. It is expected to take four years to digitize the initial round, though some of those documents will be online toward the end of 2014.

Text from Youtube:

The Vatican library launched a four-year project on Thursday (March 20) with Japanese technology group NTT Data to digitise 82,000 manuscripts ranging from the origins of the Church to the 20th century.

The Vatican library, dating back to the late 14th century, holds one of the most important collections of historical documents in the world, including 1.6 million books, large coin and picture collections as well as its manuscript archives.

”Today, NTT DATA and the Vatican Apostolic Library agreed upon and signed the initial contract for participating in the operation that will ultimately digitise and preserve about 80,000 volumes and 41 million pages of manuscripts that can be considered part of the historical heritage of humanity, dating back from between the second and the twentieth centuries AD,” President of NTT Data, Toshio Iwamoto told a news conference at the Vatican.

”I make the promise that, as a company with a distinguished track record, we will make full use of our technologies and that each and every employee will be fully committed to the mission of preserving these manuscripts of incalculable value for future generations. It is a great honour for NTT DATA to take part in such a significant historical operation” Iwamoto said.

Under the accord, the library will use advanced NTT scanners to record some 41 million pages of manuscripts as well as archive software to manage the collection with technicians from the Japanese company working alongside Vatican librarians.

”The scanning will be carried out by NTT DATA personnel operating inside the Vatican Library. The manuscripts will never be moved, they’ll remain at all times inside the Vatican Library. Our personnel has been trained, and will continue to be trained, on how to handle these documents, that are extremely delicate, by experts of the Vatican Library itself” explained Patrizio Mapelli, CEO of NTT Europe.

”By adding the 3,000 manuscripts included in the first stage of our cooperation with NTT DATA, in four-years time our estimate is that we could reach the number of 15,000 digitised manuscripts, out of 80,000 – 82,000. This would be a great achievement in favour of the preservation and diffusion of knowledge, in service of culture, for the whole world” said Monsignor Cesare Pasini, Prefect of the Vatican Library.

A question for you: Will you access a resource such as the digitized Vatican Library files?

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