July 8, 2021
As the Vatican Apostolic Library initiates a new online presence, the problem arises of what name to give it. It needs a title that would be synthetic and meaningful, comprehensive but immediately clear. A single word that, on the one hand, indicates the significance of the decision of the Vatican Apostolic Library to increase its presence in the wide world of digital and social communication, but, on the other hand, conveys what exactly the public will find in this new space. At this moment of solemn reflection, such a title should reflect two fundamental ideas:
The first is that of "graduality". Such a complex institution as the Vatican Apostolic Library, in its ancient and modern dimensions, can only reveal itself in stages, gradually showing each of the many aspects of its history, of its heritage, and of its ordinary and extraordinary activities, not to mention the people who have worked there and those who have visited it. Just as the approach and entrance into the Library, whether physical or virtual, can occur only by steps, these are places, treasures and events that require a long period of study, a careful and meticulous examination, and an ample time for reflection. Conseuently, a term is needed that could also express the physical aspect of this entrance: curious yet tentative, unsure yet decisive, perhaps even clumsy or frightened.
The second is that of "exceptionalness," especially as regards this event. The Vatican Apostolic Library, which for over five centuries has been open only to highly qualified scholars, for the first time in its history welcomes virtually any person who wants to discover it and make a visit. Since the mid-fifteenth century it has never been possible that just anyone could have access to our reading rooms and our collections. There is more: through this channel it will be possible for one to discover places, people and even activities and projects that not even a physical visit could allow one to see: an unprecedented opportunity concerning the centuries-long activity of our institution.
Where to find, however, a single word capable of expressing this complexity? The task is not easy and comes with moments of uncertainty and hesitation, as one contends with the incessant fluctuation of contending possibilies, but then comes the idea, which, like all things once discovered, seems obvious. On the entrance in the Cortile di San Damaso that for centuries has allowed access to the Vatican Apostolic Library, one can still be read the inscription: "ADITO TO THE LIBRARY AND MUSEUM". A quick glance at a dictionary of classical Latin gives us the translation:
Adĭtŭs, ūs, s. m .: 1 approach; access, access; entrance; 2 first step; possibility, faculty, opportunity.
And so we present Aditus, the new web space of the Vatican Library, which will be updated on a monthly basis: month after month you will be guided to discover the Library, its places and its treasures, its staff, the countless activities that occur there, its history, and even its visitors past and present. Piece by piece the mosaic of this institution, ageless yet always changing, will take shape; and so we invite you to begin with the next “piece” in our upcoming installment!