NTT Partners With The Vatican to Digitize Precious History
The Vatican Apostolic Library is a rich repository of historical knowledge. The library was founded in fifteenth century by Pope Nicholas V Parentucelli (1447-1455). This library has over the centuries gathered 82,000 manuscripts, 100,000 archival units, 1,600,000 printed books, 400,000 coins and medals, and a lot more valuable pieces of history. Considering their importance and delicateness of these items, Vatican invests heavy resources in their maintenance and preservation. Vatican decided to give access to the general public to a large number of documents and they partnered with NTT to bring the rare documents to the Internet.
Japanese IT service company NTT provided the digitization solutions to Vatican. NTT Data is a leading IT services provider and global innovation partner headquartered in Tokyo, with business operations in over 40 countries. Their emphasis is on long-term commitment, which combines global reach with local intimacy to provide premier professional services varying from consulting and systems development to outsourcing.
One of their key service includes archiving digital manuscripts as high-definition data, supported with special measures for long-term storage and safekeeping. This includes use of a highly sustainable storage format, metadata management to increase search efficiency, optimized search algorithms and a user-friendly search interface.
NTT brought in its digital archive technology AMLAD which lets users view high definition images when viewed through a special application. The delicate documents were scanned with great caution and archived.
AMLAD (Advanced Museum Library Archives Deposit) is a service that helps to preserve and disseminate valuable ancient books, manuscripts, prints, visual and audio data into digital data. Those digital archives can be opened to the public as indexed data that is searchable from computers, smartphones, and tablets. NTT has also worked with the Akita Prefectural Library in Japan where they digitized thousands of images and documents. They also consolidated data from multiple databases from multiple institutions into one easily searchable formats.
Vatican has signed a contract worth Euro 18 million with NTT to digitize about 3000 manuscripts by 2018. In the long term Vatican wants to digitize all the treasures in its library. It would sure be an herculean task as it would amount to about 41 million pages in its entirety.
“We gladly accepted the collaboration of NTT to support the further improvement of the project of digital archiving of our manuscripts using their innovative technologies,” explained Monsignor Cesare Pasini, Prefect of the Vatican Apostolic Library. “In so doing, we will further nurture our mission of preserving these treasures of humankind and making them more widely available and known in a deep spirit of universality-including the universality of knowledge and the universality of collaboration and agreement with institutions and companies throughout the world.”
History is an essential bit of our existence whose lessons pave the path for the future. The knowledge contained in the documents released by Vatican belongs to all of humankind and hence should be in public domain. This move by Vatican is commendable and we hope these documents raise new debates and discussion about our history in the popular culture.