Italy’s classics coming to a screen nearby

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Italy’s classics coming to a screen nearby

Mauro Guerrini, the president of the Italian Library Association, is very proud of his nation’s project that aims to digitalize old books, citing a number of addresses of Web sites where the digital contents can be found.
“Italian libraries are currently working on the Cultural Internet Project, to digitalize very important manuscripts of 1400s to 1500s,” said Mr. Guerrini at an interview in the Italian Ambassador’s Residence on last Monday. He was in Seoul to attend the 72nd World Library and Information Congress that was held from Aug. 20 to 24 at the COEX Center, southern Seoul.
The Italian government promoted the project two years ago in order to let people share in the nation’s abundant cultural and intellectual assets.
“You can even read the records of Galileo Galilei on the Internet right now if we have an Internet connection here,” Mr. Guerrini said. The National Central Library of Florence has completed digitalizing Galileo’s manuscripts and the library of the University of Napoli is digitalizing old documents, including over a million pages of opera notes and some other musical papers, and nearly 50 percent are done, he said. At the moment, the digital contents are offered to anyone for free.
“We’re planning to digitalize about 60 million old valuable manuscripts. It will take about 10 years for that,” said Mr. Guerrini. “The central and local governments are financially supporting the Cultural Internet Project,” he added.
Mr. Guerrini, 53, is also a professor of Library Science at the University of Florence. He became the director of the Library and Museum of Leonardo da Vinci in Florence when he was 27, the youngest director ever. As he was also raised in a village near the birthplace of Leonardo da Vinci, people called him “Mauro da Vinci.”
Mr. Guerrini said that he had toured the National Library of Korea and had found two of his reports translated into Korean in the library.
“We are also working on the National Library Service; that aims to connect national, public, university and church libraries by networks,” Mr. Guerrini said. “However, I believe that the digitalization won’t change the core of libraries,” he emphasized.
“It’s not possible to digitalize all the books in the world,” he continued, “People will keep continuing visiting libraries, and you know, the scene of the library ― the space surrounded by walls and millions of books are put on the bookshelves in it ― won’t change.”

by Park Sung-ha
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