Digitize Everything


The Vatican has a mission to digitally preserve roughly 40 million pages of library archives.

The first phase of the project will scan about 3,000 of 82,000 manuscripts. That part of the project is expected to take four years.

Digitizing the entire library could take 100 years or more. And about 43 quadrillion bytes of storage.

From what I could find on the Vatican Library website, the project is starting with the following manuscripts:

  • 142 manuscripts originating from the old library of the monastery of Lorsch, in the context of a project to virtually reconstruct this famous library (Bibliotheca Laureshamensis ”“ digital: Virtuelle Klosterbibliothek Lorsch), with the support of the University of Heidelberg
  • the over 2,000 manuscripts of the Palatini latini collection, in collaboration with the University of Heidelberg
  • several thousand Greek and Hebrew manuscripts and incunabula, in collaboration with the Bodleian Library
  • around 30 of the most significant Slavic manuscripts, in collaboration with the University of Sofia “Saint Clement Ohridski”
  • several dozen Syriac manuscripts, in collaboration with the “Center for the Preservation of Ancient Religious Texts” of Brigham Young University (U.S.A.), with which the Library had already produced an earlier series of digitisations in the context of the project Syriac Manuscripts from the Vatican Library
  • over 600 Chinese manuscripts and over 100 Chinese printed books regarding the history of China from the seventeenth to the beginning of the twentieth century, in collaboration with the “Chinese National Committe for the compilation of Qing History”

The Manuscripts are described this way:

The extraordinary richness of the Vatican manuscript collections – Latin, Greek and Oriental – make it one of the world”™s outstanding libraries in terms of the quantity and the quality of the manuscripts preserved there, which range from papyrus codices of the Gospels and of other New Testament writings, transcribed only a few decades after they were composed, to late antique manuscripts of Vergil and Terence; from famous palimpsests to precious manuscripts of the High Medieval period; from the masterpieces of Byzantine miniature to those of the Italian Renaissance; from musical and Oriental collections to the libraries and archives of the great families which gave the Church Popes and Cardinals; from scholarly notes and papers to collections of letters and of autographs from the sixteenth to the twentieth centuries.

Here is an example scan (you can take a guess at the English language equivalent):

In principio creavit Deus cælum et terram

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