To cut to the chase:
I can't tell you how envious this makes me of kids that are just hitting college around now ... like the popular "Prehistoric Googling" image meme (featuring library card catalog files) ... this is opening up material that would have been - when I was in school - pretty much impossible to access, and if at all possible, very, very expensive (involving flying to Rome, etc.).The Vatican Apostolic Library is now digitizing its valuable ancient religious manuscripts and putting them online via its website. All of the content is available for free.
The Library was originally founded in 1451 AD and holds over 80,000 manuscripts, prints, drawings, plates and books printed prior to 1500 AD. The titles are all written throughout history by people who had different faiths or religions, from all over the world.
Not only are paintings, religious iconography and books being published online, but also letters by from important historical figures, drawings and notes by artists and scientists such as Michelangelo and Galileo, as well as treaties from all eras in history.
Figured I'd pass it along. The article says they don't quite have a particularly "user friendly" front end for this yet, but that will be coming. It will be awesome to be able to flip through those Mayan Codexes (like the one pictured - click for a bigger image), and poking around to see what other goodies they may have digitized (sort of cosplaying Robert Langdon).