Though the Vatican raised something of a digital middle finger at Twitter by deleting all of the old Pope’s tweets, the church body isn’t entirely against digital storage for posterity: It’s revealed that its plan to digitize the Vatican Apostolic Library will need some 2.8 petabytes of storage space. EMC Corporation is the lucky company selected to amp up this amount of permanent binary storage, no doubt leveraging its expertise in corporate-grade cloud services.
Now, the math: 2.8 petabytes is equivalent to 2,800 terabytes, which EMC’s press release says is enough to store 40 million pages of digitized manuscript. The Vatican Library is one of the oldest surviving libraries in the world, and contains over 80,000 codecs and 1.1 million printed books. Their contents will be scanned and stored in an ISO-approved format, so that some texts which are falling into disrepair and decay will not be lost to history.
The Vatican is even promising to make the digital copies “available to scholars around the world.” (It’s unclear as of now if the documents will be accessible to the average citizen.) The Vatican is usually extremely careful about permitting access to some of its libraries, which in the case of the Apostolic Library includes rare books like the ninth-to-tenth century Hebrew Sifra manuscript. While the text preservation is an excellent plan, the Vatican has now opened a can of digital storage worms: Storing digital data in an archive manner is extremely tricky, and expensive…just ask NASA.