Vatican library moves into the 21st century

The Vatican library is half way through a four-year long project as part of a conservation project involving digitising 82,000 historic manuscripts onto the Vatican website.

The Vatican library has begun mass digitising 82,000 historic manuscripts to make them available online.

As part of the project, EMC has offered 2.8 petabytes of storage — enough to store about 40 million pages of digitlised manuscripts — to help the Vatican library digitise its collection, which includes documents like the 42 line Latin Bible of Gutenberg, the first book printed with movable type dating between 1451 and 1455.

Speaking at EMC World 2014, Vatican library chief information officer Luciano Ammentia said the project is half way through.

"This project will be a benefit for humanity," he said.

"We wanted to give the whole world the chance to read these manuscripts. This first collection will be the test bed for long-term conservation."

Other manuscripts that have been digitised include Greek testimonies of the works of Homer, Sophocles, Plato and Hippocrate and the Sifra, a Hebrew manuscript written between the end of the 9th Century and the middle of the 10th.

Previously, only 200 people could read the manuscripts at the library at the same time and Ammentia believes only about 20 percent of the entire collection has ever been read. The manuscripts, are typically about 500 pages long and convert to around 150 megabytes each, including metadata.

There are expectations that it will take a total of four years to complete, Ammentia said, with hope the next phase of the project will be alphabetising the collection.

Ammentia said there are plans to work on a data recovery system, not only for the library, but for the entire Vatican City, which he says will be "very complicated". He also believes it'd be a "dream" to see the library's system in the cloud because in "the US everything is easy; everything is complicated in Italy" and so "it probably won't be realised any time soon".

Aimee Chanthadavong attended EMC World 2014 in Las Vegas courteosy of EMC.

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