Bibliotheca Apostolica Vaticana or the Vatican Library, one of the oldest libraries in the world, plans to digitally archive 82,000 manuscripts, some dating back to the origins of the Church, with the help of leading Japanese IT firm NTT DATA Corp.

NTT DATA announced it was selected to publish online the Vatican Library’s entire collection of rare historical texts over the next four years. The manuscripts include works of artistic value, as well as copies of the Bible and Koran.

The library has already begun to digitalize around 6,000 manuscripts. Its collaboration with NTT DATA is designed to enhance current archiving methods with special measures that will improve long-term storage and safekeeping. The project will mean that some of the most precious documents in history will be available to the public for the first time.

“The manuscripts that will be digitized extend from pre-Columbian America to China and Japan in the Far East, passing through all the languages and cultures that have marked the culture of Europe,” said Monsignor Jean-Louis Brugues, archivist and librarian of the Holy Roman Church.

NTT DATA will scan the valuable historical manuscripts and archive them, all of which will be released on the library’s website as high-definition image data.

“We are delighted to take part in this historic initiative led by the Vatican Apostolic Library to preserve valuable treasures of humankind,” said Toshio Iwamoto, President and CEO of NTT DATA, said in a news release on March 20.

“Through this project, NTT DATA looks forward to contributing to art, academia and business by developing its IT expertise on a global level.”

The Vatican Library, founded in 1451, is considered one of the world’s most significant research libraries.

By Maesie Bertumen

Image of Toshio Iwamoto, President and CEO of NTT DATA, and Monsignor Cesare Pasini, Prefect of the Vatican Apostolic Library, courtesy of NTT DATA