Vatican Library to digitise 80,000 manuscripts

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From Digitised Manuscripts Blog:

Vatican Library to digitise 80,000 manuscripts

Monsignor Cesare Pasini, Prefect of the Vatican Library, sent out an "extraordinary" Newsletter 5/2010 on 24 March (see full text as posted by the Evangelical Textual Criticism blog) announcing plans to digitise 80,000 manuscripts held by the Vatican Library. Planning and consulting, as well as testing of workflow and infrastructure, have been finalised. The Newsletter also discloses some details about the project: it is planned to be implemented in three phases over a 10 year period and will initially involve 60 staff in the first phase, incremented to over 120 staff in the second and third phases. A Metis System Scanner and a 50MP Hasselblad camera ("depending on the different types of material to be reproduced") will capture the images which will be stored as FITS (Flexible Image Transport System) files, a non-proprietary file format, originally designed for the storage and transmission of mainly scientific images. The 40 million manuscript pages are anticipated (following "a rough calculation") to take up a total of 45 petabytes storage space. [Holy Cow!  A petabyte is 1000 terabytes, or 1,000,000,000,000,000B]

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9 Responses to Vatican Library to digitise 80,000 manuscripts

  1. medievalist says:

    If, by manuscripts, Mgsr Pasini literally means manu-scripts, which will eventually become more widely available, even free, online, then WOW! This will change medieval studies (among others) forever. It’s ineffable!

  2. Andrew says:

    I can hardly wait along with that famous dictionary of all Latin words being worked on in Munich with the targeted completion date somewhere around 2050.

    Kidding aside: this is very good news. Perhaps some day, hard to access manuscripts will be available with the click of a mouse.

  3. Tom in NY says:

    Gaudium magnum est “litteras visuras” sensum novum habere. Litteris machina repositis (reconditis?, visitare bibliothecam nunc non oportebit.

    Salutationes omnibus.

  4. revs96 says:

    45 million gigs! Seeing how the Vatican usually moves slowly, this will take a while…

  5. stgemma_0411 says:

    I can’t wait for these manuscripts to be made available.

  6. MikeJ9919 says:

    I think someone screwed up their math. 45 petabytes is about 45 million gigabytes. That means that each page will take up more than a gigabyte. Even at extremely high resolution, that just doesn’t seem possible.

  7. seanl says:

    Well, I just found my next reading list!

  8. Traductora says:

    This is wonderful.

  9. Ryan says:

    Ha! FITS files are used in astronomy and when talking about some of the new survey projects (e.g.the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope) numbers such as terabytes (dozens per day) and petabytes (per year) are thrown about. Even if, as MikeJ suggested and I also believe, the math is a bit wrong (45 terabytes yields just over a megabyte per page, much more reasonable), this is an “astronomical” project for the Vatican. How exciting!