Giuliano Giuffrida

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In the 90’s Giuliano Giuffrida was a boy with a lot of interests: the space, IT world, history and books, particularly old books.

Now Giuliano has a degree in Physics and a Phd in Astronomy, he works in the IT department of the Vatican Apostolic Library. He worked also in the University Tor Vergata of Rome, the Astronomical Observatory of Rome, European Southern Observatory, Italian Space Agency and he is still collaborating with the European Space Agency.

He is currently involved in the management and scientific exploitation of the digital corpus of the Vatican Apostolic Library, and he is also involved on the ESA Gaia mission, that is building the biggest and more accurate map of our Galaxy ever made.

Summarizing, Giuliano is a man with a lot of interests: the space, IT world, history and books, particularly old books.

The Future of our Past:
The Vatican Apostolic Library Digitization Project

Starting from a hypothetical, distant future, I will show you the wonders of the Vatican Apostolic Library, from the treasures of our past to the beauty of our digital present.

The Vatican Apostolic Library, founded in the 15th century, is the direct heir of more ancient libraries and hosts books and documents that are up to 2000 years old. Since its foundation, the Library has always maintained its mission to preserve and disseminate historical and cultural heritage.

In this context, a project of digitization of ancient manuscripts and incunabula began in 2010, with more than 6 million pages already digitized. But we live in a world that is moving forward at a quite fast-paced rhythm: a file 10-20 years old could be quite difficult to read and documents created 30-40 years ago can be unreadable.

There are many causes, gradual or abrupt, that can stop the conservation and preservation of data. Information loss has already happened in the past so many times: in Babylonia, Hellenistic period, Roman world, Pre-Columbian societies…

Science Fiction is also full of examples of a humanity that has lost knowledge of its past: for instance A Canticle For Leibowitz, Foundation, Dune are just few of the most famous examples.

What we are doing to preserve our data ? Is it possible to realize now a digital archive that will be readable even in a distant future ?

We believe that the answer is yes and the digital corpus of the Vatican Apostolic Library is a possible example.