Digitization of Vatican Library faces challenges

A year after the project's announcement, the firist digitized volumes of the Vatican Library are now available online. Experts began with the library's "most delicate" volumes, including "the Vatican’s 8,900 incunabula (books printed before 1501): the Sifra, a Hebrew manuscript written a millennia ago, a 4th century manuscript of the Greek Bible and the De Europa of Pope Pius II, printed around 1491."

Two holdups in the process were the use of gold and silver in illumnations, because special light was required to capture the original look of the manuscript, and the possibility that delicate book bindings would disintegrate upon touch. A team of 15 is tasked with using eight different types of scanners and four varieties of digital cameras to deal with the fragile and rare texts.