Confirming reports that circulated last week, the Holy See's press office has announced that the Vatican library will be closed in July for an extensive renovation project that is expected to take 3 years.
The renovation project was unavoidable, L'Osservatore Romano reports, because of serious structural weaknesses in the 16th-century building. Architects determined that they could not strengthen foundations and floors without closing the building to the public.
The library staff had sought to avoid major disruption of the facility-- for instance, by moving over 300,000 books from rooms in which the floors had begun sagging-- but expert consultants determined that the repairs could not be postponed.
Once the decision was made to undertake the extensive repairs, Vatican officials seized the opportunity to modernize the building, adding air-conditioning and elevator service. The renovations will also allow for an overall reorganization of the library collection.
During the 3-year renovation period, library officials hope to continue providing research services for the 20,000 scholars who visit each year...
...The Vatican Library was set up in 1448 by Pope Nicholas V, who provided the first several hundred manuscripts from the collection assembled by previous popes.