The Vatican Apostolic Library’s Digital Preservation Project

MANONI, Paola, NÚÑEZ GAITÁN, Ángela and SCHULER, Irmgard (2018) The Vatican Apostolic Library’s Digital Preservation Project. Paper presented at: IFLA WLIC 2018 – Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – Transform Libraries, Transform Societies in Session 160 - Preservation and Conservation with Information Technology.

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Language: English (Original)
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The Vatican Apostolic Library’s Digital Preservation Project

Preservation, conservation and free consultation are the main principles of the Vatican Apostolic Library from its inception, in the middle of the XV century. Precisely in compliance with this role, a project of long-term digital preservation began in 2010. The challenges encountered were twofold: on the one hand, the guarantee of the longevity of the technological product obtained and on the other, enabling for the dissemination of the Vatican Library’s manuscripts in a networking digital library. The continuous cooperation between the Photographic, Preservation and Conservation and Information Technology Sections of the Vatican Library was a prerequisite and has been fundamental for maintaining the high quality of the whole process. This paper will focus on three main areas: 1.The workflow begins in the Preservation and Conservation Workshop. During these years of experience, the conservators have carefully defined the discernment/standard needed for the first selection of the volumes to be digitized. If there is any risk of damage of a manuscript during the images acquisition process, the conservators declare the volume “not digitizable”. In other instances, the conservators perform conservation treatments to enable safe photographic procedures. Together with the photographers, conservators have corrected and perfected the photo shooting process and they have defined the handling instructions to the digitizers and their preservation awareness. 2. The planning, execution and evaluation of the large-scale digitizing project – that regards at least 82.000 volumes corresponding to 45 petabyte of data – is described. The project was preceded by a long period of preliminary study, in which guidelines based on international standards and best practice rules, but formulated according to the specific needs of the Institution, have been drafted, followed by a test bed where the proper design of infrastructure and the hardware and software resources needed were tested. Acquiring devices and shooting strategies, the digitizing workflow, color management of images, and quality control incorporated into the workflow process will be illustrated. The peculiarity of the project lies in the fact that it has been conceived, designed and controlled thanks to the internal expertise of the Institution. As a result, a model for a high quality digitizing project has been elaborated, contemplating also strategies that ensure access to digital content over time. 3. This session showcases the practice of using IT storage systems for digital preservation as well as the long-term preservation archive of FITS files at the Vatican Apostolic Library. The implementation in use is able to ensure continued access to digital information: it performs the ingestion of files, the conversion to derivative formats and the use of the PREMIS structure for supporting and recording any digital preservation action. All the information stored in PREMIS files is indexed and searchable. The database architecture in itself has been deployed according to the semantic units of the standard: the interrelated entities (Object, Event, Agent, and Rights) describing the preservation for each digital file ingested. The showcase will also describe how the information in PREMIS structure is derived.

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