back to article Holy crap! EMC gives Vatican Library 2.8PB to store manuscripts

The Vatican Library is losing its walls. Its 89,000 historic manuscripts are being made available online for access by scholars world-wide courtesy of EMC. The library, properly known as the Vatican Apostolic Library, is located in the Vatican City and is one of the oldest libraries in the world, established formally in 1475 …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    I hope they get a vote at the papal conclave out of this.

  2. Rippy

    Beautiful language!

    "Dematerialisation" is an exquisite choice to describe freeing the Word from the crass bonds of the physical world so it can range freely in the aether!

    > Digitisation might be a better translation of the Italian word that gave rise to dematerialisation.

    How very British to prefer to speak of "giving it the finger".


  3. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Including the first memo

    Hey Saul, this bible thing has done good business but we are looking for a sequel

    Something with less smiting and a feel-good ending, with a real star lead.

    And can you tie in some product placement from the Jerusalem Bread and Wine company?

    1. Blain Hamon

      Re: Including the first memo

      Don't forget the long lost bible page, "To my darling, Candy. All characters portrayed in this book are purely ficticous, and any likeness to anyone alive or dead is purely coincidental."

      Mine's the one with the Better Than Life game guide in the pocket.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Storage for long term conservation?

    "The Amos storage will be used for long term conservation with the Isilon arrays used for items needing fast access. Documents will be stored in an ISO-certifiable digital format to ensure, EMC says, future availability."

    For personal use, I was wondering what is the lifetime storage on writable CD/DVDs?

    1. dotdavid

      Re: Storage for long term conservation?

      About ten years or so - the dye used on the discs degrades, especially when exposed to light.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Storage for long term conservation?

      @dgharmon - I wouldn't expect to get any more than five years out of a modern writeable CD/DVD and that's if you've got good ones. There is a reason you get them for 25p or so.

      Of course, you may get lucky, I've got some CDs from over ten years ago which are fine, but I've got some DVDs from a year or two ago, which are knackered.

      Never put data you actually want to keep on a CD/DVD, unless you are very disciplined about copying them every year or so.

      I work in data protection and currently when friends ask me what they should do for backup/atchive, I say: For small amounts of data, for home use, I'd suggest a good memory stick, with one off-site. For larger amounts I'd suggest something like a Western Digital external USB drive, to be kept offsite, with a duplicate disk onsite. Only use DVDs as a very last resort and not even then really, because people intend to copy them to new media, but never do.

      1. Marvin O'Gravel Balloon Face
        Thumb Up

        Re: Storage for long term conservation?

        That's good to know - I've a pair of WD external USB hard disks for that very purpose.

  5. Jeff 11

    150MB per page!?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      150MB per page!?

      @Jeff: Yes, 150MB per page. High resolution digital photographs of each page, because these are hand-written manuscripts where you may not always be sure that's an "e" and not an "G" (well, substitute whatever characters from the Greek/Latin/Hebrew/???? that you see fit). So you scan the page at as high a res as you can and store that.

      1. JDX Gold badge

        Re: 150MB per page!?

        Even so that's a lot assuming compression is used. I suppose it's not simply "you may not always be sure that's an "e" and not an "G"" but being able to zoom in and look at the type of ink/paper/whatever.

        Cool project anyway.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: 150MB per page!?

          Can't quite read this, looks like "blessed are the cheesemakers"?

          1. Captain DaFt

            Re: 150MB per page!?

            "blessed are the cheesemakers."

            I found a friend in cheeses!

            1. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart

              Re: 150MB per page!?

              Blessed are the geeks, for they shall inherit the earth cyber space

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: 150MB per page!?

          Look at it like this: Assume 24 bit color. That's 50MPixel. Call it 7000x7000 pixels. At 1200 dpi (a good modern scanner) that's only about 6 by 6 inches. Considering old manuscripts were much larger than that, and 150MB/page, even with lossless compression, doesn't sound like so much.

      2. Robert Helpmann??

        Re: 150MB per page!?

        It is also possible that the resolution involved might not require 150MB/page. The space requirements might be generated by multiple pics of the same page at different resolutions, cataloging or other needs.

        By the way, in terms of this type of collection (if I understand correctly), when a piece is labelled "manuscript" that indicates it is written by hand. You don't need to indicate both.

      3. Katie Saucey

        Re: 150MB per page!?

        It's really just an Italian make work project. The entire project is to revive and modernise the ancient profession of "The Scribe".

  6. M Debelic


    The italian term "dematerializzazione" in in this particular case means "to do without a traditional, physical document support (i.e. paper) in favour of a digital document form". Hence, the term "digitisation" is more appropriate.

    1. frank ly

      Re: Dematerialization

      Yes, because the digitised copy is just a copy, to allow many people to read them with ease. The original documents and library will be maintained. So, the (rare and largely fictitious) paperless office could be called a dematerialised office?

  7. Steve Todd

    So EMC are giving them a 6% discount

    Doesn't sound too generous to me.

    1. jm1222

      Re: So EMC are giving them a 6% discount

      6% is generous for EMC

      EMC = Extra Money Company

  8. Anonymous Coward

    Must. Resist. Priest. Porn. Joke.

    Must. Resist. Asking. How. Much. Is. Priestly. Porn.....

    Must. Resist. Kiddies. In. Steganography. Comment.....

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Must. Resist. Priest. Porn. Joke.

      More than enough for all of us. But 12th century hand-drawn stick-figure porn is really what I'm looking for.

  9. Eddy Ito

    Is it just me or does The Abyss of Hell by Sandro Botticelli look very similar to Congress when in full session? It's almost enough to start feeling a very tiny bit of pity for them.

  10. Mr Young
    Thumb Up


    Somebody must have found the accounts?

    (I think libraries are great by the way)

  11. Lars Silver badge

    Stooring something digitally

    Funny really, but after my first beer, I have come to the conclusion that if I wanted to store something for say at least a thousand years I would choose punch tape, and there is a funny logic in it too. Any better suggestions.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Stooring something digitally

      There was a Nasa study on how you would store digitized glass photographic plates where you need the data to be available in a few hundred years - we use 100 year old plates to measure star movement.

      The best two options they came up with was to print the data back to photographic glass plates - as a bit pattern which seemed a bit redundant. Or to print it onto silver nitrate black-white cinefilem

    2. Tom 38

      Re: Stooring something digitally

      If you want something to last a thousand years, probably best to carve it in huge letters on a chunk of hard rock and stick it somewhere it's unlikely to degrade. Best to make the rock absolutely massive, 500-1500 tonnes or so, and also some sort of religious icon so people don't nick it to build stuff.

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  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dear St Peter

    The team in old Italy cut a great deal for El Papa, does that give me a free pass for the gate?



  14. dssf

    What a choice of size units...

    "Petabytes"? Pet-ahhh-bites?

    Why not in decimals of exabytes? Would "sound" more appropriate.

    1. krza

      Re: What a choice of size units...

      Paedobytes, perhaps?

  15. dssf

    What letter is that, Father John?

    "It looks like 'Our Father, who aren't in Heaven...' to me"

    "Is that an 'o' or a 'u'?"...

    "It looks like 'Blessed is he who...' "WHAT, in the NAME of the LORD"?

    Oh, such blasphemers... They've stained our archives....

    Look here, "Hell, Mary IS full of grace...."

    "Glory be to the Father, the Sun, and the WHOLE 'V' Spirit..."

    "No, I don't WANT Anna's Bliss. Tell the Visitors to LEAVE the EARTH in GOD'S hands...."

  16. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
    Big Brother

    No Google?

    I thought Google were planning on being the worlds repository of the written word?

    Are these book/manuscripts/scrolls so old they are out of copyright so Google can't see a way to steal monetise them?

    1. Darkwolf

      Re: No Google?

      Google will wait until they are digitized, letting the Vatican eat the costs.

      Then, as the Vatican will probably hook in alll the Google googliness so that it will show in Google search engine, Google will eventually slurp off all fhe data into their servers, and Google will put it back together and eventually monitize.

  17. Alan 6

    It'll make the next Dan Brown book a lot more dull if all Robert Langdon has to do is fire up his laptop to access the archives instead of dashing across Rome...

  18. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart

    The Gnostic Gospels

    Are they going to include the Gnostic Gospels??? you know, the ones that contradict what's in the "4 gospels". How about Mary Magdalene gospel, the one that portray women with important roles in the early church.

    Or is it just the usual fairy tales.

    1. Tom 38

      Re: The Gnostic Gospels

      I think all stuff like that is kept in the Vatican Secret Archive, which I don't think they will digitize. Everything in the Library is available for anyone to read, but stuff in the Secret Archive is only available to accredited researches, and even then only after 75 years after the death of the Pope under whom the material entered the Archive.

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