See this charming New Yorker article by Daniel Mendelsohn on the Vatican Library. (Abstract only for now). I've worked there, briefly, and Mendelsohn does seem to get the atmospherics right (including enthusiasm for the coffee bar in the courtyard of this Renaissance palazzo, and the widespread sense that Benedict XVI understands the ideals of a great research library better than John Paul II). What Mendelsohn doesn't touch on, although his interlocutors do, is the most remarkable fact: that Catholicism, the papal court and western humanism remain so deeply intertwined.
John T. McGreevy is the Charles and Jill Fischer Provost at the University of Notre Dame.