Japanese IT group NTT Data is set to work on a project by the Vatican library to digitize more than 1.5 million pages from its collection of manuscripts. The project, which began on March 20, will scan and digitally archive thousands of historical texts from the birth of the Church to the 20th century, so it may be available online.
The library is known to possess one of the world’s most important collections of documents and manuscripts. Archivist and librarian of the Holy Roman Church, Monsignor Jean-Louis Brugues said, “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.” The Vatican library’s collection spans more than 1.6 million books, but includes a large collection of coins and pictures as well.
Expected to take four years or more, the project will use NTT scanners to record the manuscripts into archive software for easier management. Technicians from the Japanese firm will work hand in hand with Vatican librarians in documenting, while Monsignor Cesare Pasini, library prefect, said the project might be extended. “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.” The Japanese firm is donating the equipment and its services to the Vatican library. According to NTT, Although the first phase of the project is worth 18 million euros (approx. US$24.8 million), the amount will only cover a small 3,000 handwritten documents during the four-year stretch.