Vatican Library Digitization Project

Pal. lat. 5, 48v

Christ with the Four Evangelists, MS Pal. lat. 5, 48v

The Vatican Apostolic Library has uploaded the first 256 manuscripts from its ambitious digitization project. They are projecting that there will be 80,000 manuscripts total (from Rome Reports via InfoDocket).

Aside from the “using technology developed by NASA” line in the report, there isn’t a lot of information available about how this project is being done. A 2010 press release suggests that they’re using either a Metis Systems scanner or a 50-megapixel Hasselblad camera for the actual imaging and that the NASA technology in question is the FITS image format (which is used by astronomers but by few others). For the online presentation, it looks like they’re using DWork, the Heidelberg Digitization Workflow system (which is probably why most of the rollover text is in German). I like the “scrolling view”, which reminds me of browsing through a reel of microfilm, although I could not figure out how to get out of this view when I tried. Right-clicking on a page image in scrolling view brings up some metadata, though it’s fairly limited (and in German, once again).

I couldn’t resist using an image; here’s one  of Christ with the four evangelists, from Novum Testamentum ; Liber Psalmorum, MS Pal. lat. 5, 48v.



I am an independent digital collections and library technology consultant in Austin, TX.

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