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As part of its philanthropy programme, HP will provide its infrastructure technology to assist the Vatican with adding Apostolic Library access to its existing Web site, as well as building faster access to the Vatican Library site and facilitating navigation of the bibliographic database.
The Apostolic Vatican Library, founded by Pope Nicholas V (1447-1455), houses 1.6 million antique and modern printed volumes specialising in the fields of paleography, history, art history, classical literature and philology.
The library also contains 8,300 incunabula (books printed before 1501, of which 65 are printed on vellum), 150,000 manuscript and records volumes, 300,000 coins and medals, and more than 100,000 prints.
As part of the partnership, HP will also supply high-resolution imaging and printing devices to the library for the purposes of reproducing manuscripts and publications.
Last November, the Vatican demonstrated what it called the Catholic Church's commitment to modern forms of social communication when it published an official document over the Internet for the first time.
Specifically, copies of the Pope's apostolic exhortation "Ecclesia in Oceania" (The Church in Oceania) - normally delivered by the Pope in person - were sent by e-mail to dioceses around the region, which also includes Australia, New Zealand and a host of island states dotted over the Pacific Ocean.
The Vatican has had its catalogue of modern printed volumes available online since 1985 and has worked with IBM, and more recently HP, to update and refine its Web site.