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The Vatican begins digitizing its priceless archives

The Vatican has announced that it has started the process of digitizing its vast and priceless collection of ancient manuscripts so they can be accessed by anyone with an Internet connection, free of charge. In partnership with Japanese firm NTT Data, which is footing the $20m cost, the Vatican is hoping to make all 82,000 manuscripts available in the coming years.

The first batch of 3,000 manuscripts include classical Greek and Latin works and illuminated manuscripts from the mediaeval and Renaissance periods. Eventually, over 40 million pages will be scanned from the Vatican’s collection, which is one of the most valuable and distinguished in the world.

In a press release put out by NTT Data, Monsignor Cesare Pasini, Prefect of the Vatican Apostolic Library, had this to say: “We will further nurture our mission of preserving these treasures of humankind and making them more widely available and known in a deep spirit of universality — including the universality of knowledge and the universality of collaboration and agreement with institutions and companies throughout the world.”

The Vatican Apostolic Library, or ‘Pope’s library’, was founded by Pope Nicholas V Parentucelli in the 15th century. The process of digitizing documents initially got underway back in December, but with NTT Data’s help the process will now be formalized and scheduled. You can already access some of the manuscripts from the Vatican website.

During the digitization process, NTT Data will make use of a “highly sustainable” storage format and apply relevant metadata to the manuscripts to make them easily searchable through a user-friendly interface. “We are delighted to take part in this historic initiative led by the Vatican Apostolic Library to preserve valuable treasures of humankind,” said President and CEO of NTT Data Toshio Iwamoto.

[Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons]

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