Vatican Library

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Vatican Library

or

Vatican Apostolic Library,

in Rome, founded in the 4th cent. but dormant until given new life in the 15th cent. by Pope Nicholas V. It is the oldest public library in Europe and one of the chief libraries of the world. It is constituted primarily as a manuscript library. The first major librarian, Platina (Bartolommeo de' Sacchi), made a catalog of some 2,500 volumes. The library now holds more than 150,000 manuscripts and more than 1.6 million printed books, including some 8,300 incunabulaincunabula
, plural of incunabulum
[Late Lat.,=cradle (books); i.e., books of the cradle days of printing], books printed in the 15th cent. The known incunabula represent about 40,000 editions.
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, and is especially rich in books on paleography, history, art history, classical literature, and philology. These figures do not include the vast Vatican archives, a separate collection of more than 150,000 items, a collection of more than 300,000 coins and medals and more than 70,000 prints and engravings.

Facilities of the library were greatly improved in the 20th cent., although the staff and funding remain small. With funds supplied principally by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, librarians from the United States did much work (1927–30) in cataloging and classifying the contents of the library. Microfilms of most of the library's great manuscript collection were deposited at St. Louis Univ. in 1957. The Vatican Library has worked extensively with American computer companies, who helped to make its catalog of modern printed books available online in 1985 and in 2002 began a project to post images online of its complete collection of books and manuscripts.

References in periodicals archive ?
8 petabytes of storage to the Vatican Apostolic Library for the digitization of its entire catalogue of rare and valuable historic manuscripts, which are vulnerable to deterioration and decay from repeated handling.
This manuscript published by Elie Kallas is one of the manuscripts brought to Rome by Pietro della Valle (1586-1652) and joined to the Vatican Apostolic Library in 1719.
EMC will support the Vatican Apostolic Library in digitizing its catalogue of 80,000 historic manuscripts and 8,900 incunabula as part of EMC's Information Heritage Initiative.
8 petabytes of storage to help the Vatican Apostolic Library digitize its entire catalogue of historic manuscripts and incunabula (a book or pamphlet printed before 1501).