One of the greatest losses of knowledge in history was the destruction of the Library of Alexandria in Egypt in 642 A.D. It was attacked by different groups 600 years prior to its final destruction by an invading Muslim Army who only preserved the writings of Aristotle. It is debated about the exact amount of its contents, but was thought to be the single greatest repository of knowledge in the known world.
“The library was but one part of the Musaeum of Alexandria, which functioned as a sort of research institute. In addition to the library the Musaeum included rooms for the study of astronomy, anatomy, and even a zoo of exotic animals. Over 100 scholars lived at the Museum full-time to perform research, write, lecture or translate and copy documents. classical thinkers who studied, wrote, and experimented at the Musaeum include the fathers of mathematics, engineering, physiology, geography, and medicine. These included such notable thinkers such as Euclid, Archimedes, and Saint Catherine.” (Wikipedia)
The Digital Archive
Thanks to technology and the efforts of many people and cultures around the world, a loss like the Library of Alexandria will never happen again. The Digital Archive is working to preserve the written word in EVERY book and EVERY internet website in a HUGE data collection system that is backed up by multiple partner countries. This is truly a mind-boggling endeavour of humankind. It currently lists over 415 Billion webpages and has surpassed 10 Petabytes of storage in saving not only books and websites, but also music, audio, and movies.
Please view this short documentary to give you an idea of the scope of this amazing project:
The Wayback Machine
Not only is the Digital Archive saving every website, they are also saving all the websites through time. You can pull up any website and view it back in time to 1996. For instance, you can pull up The Vatican and see the first edition of the website on January 30, 1998 during the time of Saint John Paul II. He was preparing for trips to Cuba, World Communications Day, World Day for Peace, World Youth Day and the Jubilee Year in 2000.
In searching the Wayback Machine, they don’t have everything saved yet. I was pleased to see Call To Holiness was in the archive, but my own parish, Church of the Incarnation was not in the Wayback Machine yet. Hopefully it will continue to grow to genuinely have every website on the internet.
The Vatican Archive — Now going digital
The Vatican Archive is currently perhaps the current repository of the finest ancient documents in the world today. The Vatican is also in the midst of starting to digitize its vast holdings to be able to share with the world on the internet.
The Vatican announced in March 2014 that it has started the process of digitizing its vast and priceless collection of ancient manuscripts so they can be accessed by anyone with an Internet connection, free of charge. In partnership with Japanese firm NTT Data, which is footing the $20m cost, the Vatican is hoping to make all 82,000 manuscripts available in the coming years.
The first batch of 3,000 manuscripts include classical Greek and Latin works and illuminated manuscripts from the mediaeval and Renaissance periods. Eventually, over 40 million pages will be scanned from the Vatican’s collection, which is one of the most valuable and distinguished in the world.
In a press release put out by NTT Data, Monsignor Cesare Pasini, Prefect of the Vatican Apostolic Library, had this to say: “We will further nurture our mission of preserving these treasures of humankind and making them more widely available and known in a deep spirit of universality — including the universality of knowledge and the universality of collaboration and agreement with institutions and companies throughout the world.”
The Vatican Apostolic Library, or ‘Pope’s library’, was founded by Pope Nicholas V Parentucelli in the 15th century. The process of digitizing documents initially got underway back in December, but with NTT Data’s help the process will now be formalized and scheduled.
The Library of Congress
The Library of Congress is the largest library and perhaps the most beautiful in the world, as every publisher sends a copy to the library for its cataloging number and to be archived. The library began after the British troops burned The Capitol in 1814 and its national collection of books. The Congress approved the purchase of Thomas Jefferson’s personal library of 6,487 books for $23,950 to start the library. The Library of Congress now has more than 158 million items on approximately 838 miles of bookshelves. The collections include more than 36 million books and other print materials, 3.5 million recordings, 13.7 million photographs, 5.5 million maps, 6.7 million pieces of sheet music and 69 million manuscripts in over 470 languages. The Library of Congress is also beginning to digitize its library and more of it available on the internet. It is making great strides in saving its collections for future generations. It also offers some great tips for how to save your personal and family history, photos, and videos in links below.
The Library of Congress Packard Campus in Culpeper, Virginia
Opened in 2007, the Library’s Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation in Culpeper, Va., was designed for the acquisition, cataloging, storage and preservation of the nation’s collection of moving images and recorded sounds. The library’s state-of-the-art facility houses the largest and most comprehensive collection of American and foreign-produced films, television broadcasts and sound recordings. The facility houses 6 million items, including more than 3.5 million sound recordings and 1.7 million film, television and video items, representing over a century of audiovisual production.
The Packard Campus also offers FREE movies in a beautiful theater three times a week. Check the schedule with the link below for more details.
The Wayback Machine (Internet Archive)
Digital Preservation Personal Archiving (Library of Congress)
Mobile Apps from the Library of Congress (iPhone & iPad only)