January 24, 2022

New York Times: “A Vatican Library Shortens the Distance Between Its Works and Its Scholars”

From The New York Times:

On April 13, 1923, a French prelate named Eugenio Tisserant and his assistant set sail from the Italian port city of Trieste to buy some books.

By the next year, after scouring bookstores and private collections scattered across the Middle East and Europe, they had returned with 2,700 volumes — and the library of the Pontifical Oriental Institute, a graduate school dedicated to the study of the Eastern branch of Christianity, was born.

“I was perched on a ladder, amid the dust and the heat,” Tisserant recalled years later of his time in Constantinople, where he examined volumes “one by one, for entire days.”

Modern-day church scholars may find the going a lot easier. Some of the texts at the Rome institute, which over the years swelled to some 200,000 works, have just been digitized, and will soon be at the fingertips of a global audience — no voyages or ladders needed.

The first digitized versions will be available to the public in mid-2022, the product of a charitable initiative that connected the institute with technology companies in the United States and Germany.


The first set of books to be digitized were scanned by an eight-member team from a Long Island company, Seery Systems Group, using scanning technology from SMA of Germany. The project was somewhat unusual for Richard Seery, whose company’s clients are typically state and local governments.

The digitized books will be managed via ShelterZoom, a New York company whose blockchain technology will ensure that the institute will retain ownership of the volumes and control over their consumption.

Chao Cheng-Shorland, the chief executive of ShelterZoom, said she visited the library this past year and got very excited about the project.

“It’s unique, not just in the technology sense but also in the sense of contributing to such a wonderful piece of history,” she said in a telephone interview. ShelterZoom is underwriting the first phase of the project.

Learn More, Read the Complete Article (approx. 1260 words)

See Also: Back to the Future: LIers Scan Vatican Texts for Blockchain Publication (via Newsday; September 22, 2021)

See Also: ShelterZoom Signs Strategic Partnership with Prestigious Vatican University to Digitize Historical Archives (July 21, 2021)

See Also: Pontifical Oriental Library Website and Catalog

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.