The scholarly community is in mourning as the Vatican Library closes for a THREE-YEAR rebuilding. A Columbia professor of mine who studies medieval Christianity gave me a heads up on this when I was leaving for Rome around the end of May. As Paleojudaica reports, scholars were sitting elbow to elbow with piles of manuscripts trying to finish their research before the inevitable closing.
So, what do we do for the next three years?
Oddly enough, a little over half of the Vatican's approximately 70,000 original docs are on microfilm at St. Louis University (a good Jesuit school), which will make St. Louis, originally my neck of the woods, of all places the new hub for those needing access to any vatican codex or manuscript for the next three years. Perhaps I will have a research-related reason to go home after all.
I have also heard a rumor from a source here in NYC that there are other microfilms of much of the library in Brussels, or some northern European city, but I have not received verification of this. Although, it would make sense that there should be some sort of copies of the Vatican materials laying around somewhere in case of destruction by fire, etc.