Some time ago the Archivio Segreto Vaticano launched digitalisation of the oldest fonds of the archives. The programme also covered the over 1,200 card indexes and inventories kept in the «Leone XIII» Index room, some of which date back as far has the 16th century. The aim is to provide high quality images for direct consultation and to preserve the originals and protect them from inexorable wear and tear.
Document acquisition is performed in the Digital Photo Reproduction Laboratory on workbenches connected to the intranet system of the Archives. Each workbench has colour digital cameras and camera bodies with digital backs for very large and precious documents.
The digital images are then classified using their original library shelfmarks and sent to storage.
Today the Archivio Segreto Vaticano holds 7 million digital images in high quality TIFF and compressed format on a 180TB capacity storage system run by the IT services. The number of files will increase over the years.
One of the most commendable ongoing initiatives is surely the project to digitalise the inventories used in the «Leone XIII» Index Room, including the Schedario Garampi».
High quality acquisition of these descriptive research tools has created pdf format «e-volumes» that mirror the original indexes. These digital files are posted on the intranet system that can be accessed form the workstations of the Archives’ staff and from the researchers’ workstations in the «Sisto V» Printed Matter Reading Room. Printouts of these digitalised data in book format replace the original indexes and inventories that, after restoration if required, are stored in the Bunker of the Archivio Segreto Vaticano.