Vatican stores computer chip fitted books in bombproof bunker

Vatican stores computer chip fitted books in bombproof bunker

Daily Telegraph on Tuesday reported that all the library's 70,000 books, which are kept in a bombproof bunker, have been fitted with a computer chip that emits radio signals so as to prevent theft.

Fireproof walls, closed-circuit cameras, automated entry and exit gates and climate-controlled rooms were also introduced during the renovation.

The library houses the world's oldest known complete Bible, dating from around 325 and believed to have been commissioned by Emperor Constantine.

While 5,000 scholars are allowed to undertake research each year, but it is only the Pope who is allowed to take a book out of the library.

The library reading and research rooms will reopen Sep 20. The massive renovation effort, which cost about 7.5 million pounds, was sparked by an attempted theft by an American art history professor who smuggled pages torn from a 14th century manuscript.

In 1996, the professor was sentenced to 14 months in prison after he admitted that he took the pages during a 1987 research visit.

The chips will also ensure that each document is kept back in its proper place in the huge repository below the Vatican.

"In this kind of library, if a book is misplaced, it is as good as lost. "But with this new radio frequency system of identification, it will be much easier to locate a lost book and return it to its rightful place," Ambrogio Piazzoni, the library's vice-prefect, was quoted as saying.

The books and manuscripts were the product of the "thought, passion and faith" of centuries of religious scholarship, he said, adding: "It's not just the heritage of the Vatican Library but of the whole of humanity."

The library was started by Pope Nicholas V in the 1450s.

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