Rare Vatican manuscripts to be digitized

Rare Vatican manuscripts to be digitized
Toshio Iwamoto hakes hands with archivist and librarian of the Holy Roman Church, French archbishop Jean-Louis Brugues. Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP
Ancient manuscripts in the Vatican library penned from East Asia to the Pre-Colombian Americas will be digitized by a Japanese company as part of a global project to make the collection available for free viewing by the public.

Japan's NTT DATA will digitize 3,000 historical works and put them online over a four-year period in an initiative costing €18 million, the company said at a press conference in the Vatican on Thursday.

"The manuscripts to be digitized go from the Pre-Colombian American period to the Chinese and Japanese East Asia, passing through all the languages and cultures which have animated Europe," the Vatican's librarian and archivist Jean-Louis Brugues said.

The library began digitizing its books a couple of years ago and the deal with NTT DATA will bring the total of manuscripts converted to 15,000 by 2018.

NTT DATA's head Toshio Iwamoto said the company was eager to participate "in an operation which will lead to the digitization and preservation of some 80,000 books and 41 million pages which could be considered as global heritage, written between the second and 20th centuries".

The company is active in over 40 countries and is experienced in digitizing rare manuscripts.

Brugues underlined the Holy See's desire "to make the immense treasure entrusted to it available, by offering free consultation on the Internet".

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