Vatican Apostolic Library To Digitize 82,000 Manuscripts

Agreement Will Oversee Availability of Documents Dating to Pre-Columbian America and Ancient China

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The Vatican Apostolic Library and a leading tech provider have signed an agreement that would oversee a plan to digitally archive 82,000 manuscripts.

The agreement was announced at a press conference yesterday at the Holy See Press Office. NTT Data, a leading technological service provider, is known for its expertise in IT and communications structures.

Among those present were Archbishop Jean-Louis Brugues, O.P., archivist and librarian of the Holy Roman Church, Msgr. Cesare Pasini, prefect of the Vatican Apostolic Library, and Toshio Iwamoto and Patrizio Mapelli, president and CEOs of the NTT Data Corporation and the NTT Data EMEA respectively.

Archbishop Brugues explained that by archiving the manuscripts, which range from pre-Columbian American to the Chinese and Japanese Far East,  the Vatican Apostolic Library will make documents that have inspired European culture. The manuscripts, he said, are “a sign of the universality of culture.

“The humanistic mission that characterises the Library opens it to all that is human, including mankind’s various ‘cultural peripheries’; and with this humanistic spirit it seeks to conserve and make available the immense treasure of humanity that has been entrusted to it. For this reason, the Library will digitise it and make it available on the web,” Archbishop Brugues said.

A communique from the Vatican’s Press Office stated that the project will consist of an initial four-year phase that will see the digitization of three thousand manuscripts. The project, the communique stated, “may be extended into a second phase to include the 82,000 volumes – more than 40 million pages – of manuscripts preserved in the Library and dating from between the second and twentieth centuries.”

Iwamoto noted the significance of having the ancient manuscripts available to the world, especially in the academic world.  “As a result, numerous researchers in the fields of academia and in various fields of knowledge will be able to interpret the valuable manuscripts, to which access had long been restricted, in their original form,” he said.

Once digitized, the manuscripts “will be released on the Vatican Apostolic Library’s website as high-definition data.”

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