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Vatican Library introduces new and improved searchable website

Vatican Apostolic Library
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The library’s revamped online services features a more powerful search tool to make it easier to conduct research.

While the Vatican Library remains closed to the greater public due to the coronavirus pandemic, its website has been complete retooled to make it more accessible and easier for scholars and amateur researchers to use.

The library’s prefect, Msgr. Cesare Pasini told Vatican News that the revamped website, www.vaticanlibrary.va, was inaugurated on July 16 to serve researchers who, because of the lockdown, have not been able to visit the library in person. On June 1, the library reopened to only a small number of scholars each day.

In the interview with Vatican News, Pasini said that developing a “modern and up-to-date tool” that is “at the service of visitors” would help fulfill Pope Francis’ goal of “reaching the peripheries.”

The Vatican Library is one of the oldest libraries in the world, officially established in 1475 by Pope Nicolas V as a research library for history, law, philosophy, literature, and theology. Today its collection includes 75,000 codices, and about 1.1 million books, 400,000 coins and medals.

Among its many treasures are an illustrated fragment of Virgil’s Aeneid that dates back 1,600 years, Sandro Botticelli’s 1450 illustration of The Divine Comedy, and a collection of poems, notes, and preparatory sketches by Michelangelo.

The website’s new look follows a digitization of the library’s contents which began in 2014. With the website easier to navigate, researchers will find it easier to search within the library’s archives.

Registered searchers now have access to enhanced search functions, and can ask the library’s staff questions and order digital copies of the manuscripts and other materials, Pasini said in the interview.

“We are the pope’s librarians,” he said. “That is why we want to truly be at the service of our visitors with a modern and up-to-date tool that immediately provides what people are searching for or even offers them something more.”

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