Ancient Manuscripts Go Online
Hewlett-Packard has been tapped by Pope John Paul II to provide public online access to the Vatican's Apostolic Library, which will include posting images of manuscripts that have only been accessible to professional scholars and professors.
As part of its philanthropy program, HP has been providing its infrastructure technology to assist the Vatican with adding Apostolic Library access to its existing Web site. The company has also been helping build faster access to the Vatican Library site, and enabling navigation of the bibliographic database, according to a statement from both HP and the Vatican on Tuesday.
The Apostolic Library information will become available on the Vatican Library's existing
"The Library is open to the general public over the Web site today as part of the latest update and upgrade to what we've been doing with the Vatican. You can now see things such as a manuscript from Michelangelo, and there will be more information and images available online as time goes on," said Didier Philippe, director of strategy and corporate development for HP EMEA (Europe, the Middle East, and Africa) and chairman for HP EMEA philanthropy, education, and intellectual property.
The Apostolic Vatican Library was founded by Pope Nicholas V, who served from 1447 to 1455. It houses 1.6 million antique and modern printed volumes specializing in the fields of paleography, history, art history, classical literature, and philology. It also contains 8300 incunabula (books printed before 1501, of which 65 are printed on vellum), 150,000 manuscript and records volumes, 300,000 coins and medals, and more than 100,000 prints.
"HP has been providing the Vatican with hardware, equipment support, Web consultancy, and even Web design help since the project began in February 2001. Hardware includes servers, mainly HP-UX," Philippe said.
As part of the partnership, HP has also supplied high-resolution imaging and printing devices, including the DesignJet 5000, and digital cameras to the library to reproduce manuscripts and publications, Philippe said.
Last November, the Vatican demonstrated what it called the Catholic Church's commitment to modern forms of social communication when it published an official document over the Internet for the first time. Specifically, copies of the Pope's apostolic exhortation "Ecclesia in Oceania" (The Church in Oceania)--normally delivered by the Pope in person--were sent by e-mail to dioceses around the region, which also includes Australia, New Zealand, and a host of island states dotted over the Pacific Ocean.
The Vatican has had its catalog of modern printed volumes available online since 1985 and has worked with such companies as IBM and HP to update and refine its Web site. Church representatives
"Because of the value of some of the manuscripts, only professional scholars and professors could physically see them after asking in writing for permission from the Vatican to do so. Though there will be the same restrictions to see these works in person, people can now see the Library's collection online. We are doing similar work with museums throughout Europe and Africa, and there will also be enhancements and developments to the Vatican's Web site as is needed," Philippe said.