Following three years of restoration work, the Vatican Apostolic Library is due to reopen its doors on 20 September. The announcement was made in a press conference, held Monday morning in the Sistine Hall of the Vatican Museums by Vatican officials and the company in charge of the restoration work.
The Vatican library dates back to the 1450s starting with 350 Latin manuscripts, but quickly grew to become one of the largest repositories in Europe. It now has over 1.6 million volumes, including hundreds of medieval manuscripts, including the world’s oldest complete copy of the Bible.
Over 9 million euros ($12 million US) was spent on the three-year restoration project. The wing in which the collections are kept was in need of structural repair work including strengthening the floor which was showing signs of subsiding, bringing large areas of the building into line with safety norms, and moving a number of sectors in order to rationalise access to the works.
Another innovation was the addition of computer chips to each of the library’s 70 000 volumes, which will help prevent the books from being lost or stolen. Ambrogio Piazzoni, the library’s vice-prefect, told the news conference, “In this kind of library, if a book is misplaced, it is as good as lost. But with this new radio frequency system of identification, it will be much easier to locate a lost book and return it to its rightful place.”
During the course of the press conference it was announced that an exhibition entitled “Knowing the Vatican Apostolic Library: a story open to the future” will open in the Vatican’s Charlemagne Wing on 10 November. It was further announced that a congress will be held from 11 to 13 November on the theme: “The Vatican Apostolic Library as a place of research and an institution at the service of scholars”.