Vatican Library to digitize 80,000 manuscripts-40 Million pages

This first great manuscript library has announced plans to digitize 80,000 manuscripts from its archives. This collection comprises approximately 40 million manuscript pages and is expected to comprise 45 petabytes of data. The plan is apparently well established, expecting to take 10 years and evolving through 3 phases...with a staff of 60 growing to 120.

The technical aspects are interesting. They are tentatively planning to use a Metis System Scanner and a 50MP Hasselblad camera. Most interestingly, they intend to use FITS (Flexible Image Transport System) for the images (“Once FITS, always FITS). FITS is an open standard used mostly primarily in hard science areas. FITS is/was designed specifically for scientific data and includes structural elements for describing photometric and spatial calibration information, together with image origin metadata. Obviously, the inclusion of such data at the time of scanning could make the images significantly more valuable and at least in part address some of the major shortcomings of digital images...loss of the “nature of the original object”. Added info can be found here:

Original Announcement from the Vatican Library

Lengthy and Italian

Vatican Library Site
[N.B. Has a nice Erasmus quotation, but all links are broken...]

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