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June 9, 2017

Stanford Libraries partners with the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana on a new grant

(Republished with permission of the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana)


Vatican City. – The Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (BAV) in conjunction with

Stanford University Libraries is carrying out a three-year project funded by The Andrew W. Mellon

Foundation. These funds will support the implementation and the enhancement of interoperability

protocols for digitized manuscripts.


The BAV holds some 80,000 manuscripts, one of the world’s largest and most important collections

of such materials. To date, 14,000 of these manuscripts have been digitized and put online using the

International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF). Thanks to the funds received, the BAV is

now implementing a three-year project to enrich the digital delivery of these materials by

annotating some exemplary manuscripts with scholarly analysis in order to tell scholarly narratives

that provide interpretation for the individual works and illustrate important aspects of the world’s

pre-print culture. In order to act this way the BAV will use and enhance the IIIF, and a suite of

leading edge, open source software tools. Stanford University Libraries, as the founding institution

for IIIF and lead developer for these technologies, will partner with the BAV to provide technology

support for this project. The project term is from October 1, 2016 to September 30, 2019. The BAV

is pleased to inform that the preliminary phase of the project, focused on the creation of metadata

for the selected materials, has been successfully completed and the work on annotations is due to

start now.


“At the end of the three years, the implementation could lead to a further phase of engagement

which could pave a new way for the study of Medieval manuscripts” said Monsignor Cesare Pasini,

Prefect of the Library.


“The resulting web-based historiography of a selection of the BAV’s most significant manuscripts,

ones heavily consulted and objects of scholarly and theological attention over the centuries, will

provide new insights and new stimuli for further engagement by members of the Church as well as

scholars and students everywhere” said Michael A. Keller, Vice Provost and University Librarian at



An upcoming blog on the Digital Vatican Library ( will exemplify the progress

of project in its next experimental steps.