Strengthening Modern Greek Collections
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Modern Greek Collections at Princeton. Overview and Prospects
Dimitri Gondicas, Executive Director,
Program in Hellenic Studies, Princeton University,
and Karin Trainer, University Librarian, Princeton University
To collect materials for teaching and research covering all aspects
of modem Greece; to serve the current and future needs of undergraduate
and graduate students, as well as faculty and research staff at
Princeton; to support research by Hellenic Studies post- doctoral
and visiting fellows from Greece; to develop a close partnership
between Princeton University Library and the Program in Hellenic
Studies in order to serve as a national and international resource
for the study of modem Greece; to collect, preserve, and make available
to the broader scholarly community unique and rare materials pertaining
to modem Greek literature, history, politics, and culture.
History of the Modern Greek Collections
The growth of the collections parallels that of the Program in
Hellenic Studies. Prior to 1979, the Library made limited purchases
of modem Greek materials, acquiring selected literary works (in
the original Greek and in English translation) by major modem Greek
writers, as well as publications on modem Greece (language, literature,
history, politics, economics, folklore) in major European languages
(English, French, German, and Italian). With the establishment
of the Program in Hellenic Studies in the academic year 1979-80,
acquisitions gradually picked up to serve the needs of the undergraduate
courses offered in modem Greek language and literature. In the
last ten years, the level of acquisitions of monographs and serials
has increased dramatically to meet the needs of a flourishing Hellenic
Studies Program, that now spans Classical, Byzantine, and Modem
Greek Studies at the graduate and post-doctoral levels. In this
connection, we are also actively acquiring important collections
of manuscripts and archives pertaining to modem Greek literature,
politics, and diplomatic relations with the United States.
Size of the Collections
Over 30,000 volumes (monographs and journals) dealing with all
aspects of modem Greece. Over 600 journal titles. Current rate
of acquisitions: approximately 800 current titles and 1,200 retrospective
acquisitions annually. More than 120 periodical subscriptions.
Scope of Collections and Range of Subjects
All humanities and social sciences disciplines. Chronological
limits: overlap with Byzantine collections; focus on 1453-present.
Geographical limits: Greece; Cyprus; Greek diaspora communities;
areas and cultures influenced by Greek civilization. Languages:
Greek; major western European languages; Russian; Turkish; Arabic.
Overlap with other Collections at Princeton
The modem Greek collections build on the extraordinary strength
of Princeton's holdings in Classical and Byzantine Studies. The
special attraction of Princeton's modem Greek collections for research
scholars derives from the fact that they form an integral part
of a major research library system with special strengths in European,
Near Eastern, and Slavic materials, as well as in Art, Archaeology,
Philosophy, Religion, Economics, History, Politics, and International
Relations. Generally, the modem Greek collections expand in the
areas of greatest strength, including rare books (incunabula, early
editions of Greek Classics, travelers to Greece and the Levant),
literary manuscripts, graphic arts, photographic collections, historic
maps, and children's books.
20th century modem Greek literature (in Greek) and as world literature
(translations in all languages); Anglo-American literary philhellenism;
19th and 20th century travel to Greece; Greeks in the Ottoman Empire;
modem Greek enlightenment; United States-Greek relations in the
Types of Materials
Monographs; serials; government documents; newspapers; pamphlets;
maps; microforms; photocopies; audiovisual materials; CDS; CD-ROMs;
audio tapes; Us; manuscripts; ephemera.
Level of Use
In a typical year, we enroll approximately 150 undergraduates
in Hellenic Studies courses; we support about 40 graduate students
in Byzantine or Modem Greek Studies; we support five post-doctoral
fellows and 40 Greek visiting fellows; and we serve 25 faculty
members and research staff in Hellenic Studies. Also, we continuously
make available to American scholars at other institutions a great
number of books, periodicals, -and other scarce materials through
Most books and bound periodicals are housed in Firestone Library
(open stacks; Rare Books and Special Collections), with additional
materials in branch libraries (Art, Architecture, Music, Near Eastern
Studies, Public Policy Archives). Current periodicals are displayed
in the new Hellenic Studies Reading Room that also includes a basic
reference collection, as well as access to electronic catalogues
and databases. Less frequently used materials are sent to the Annex
We are involved in several projects: deacidification, photocopying,
or microfilming of damaged books; digitization of audio tape and
photographic collections; protective housing as well as conservation
of rare books and manuscripts.
Cataloguing and Access
Approximately 1,000 books are catalogued annually (40% original
cataloguing; 25% LC copy; 35% other copy). By the year 2000, all
our modem Greek holdings will be catalogued electronically and
records will be accessible on-line through the Library webpage.
A special webpage on Hellenic Research Resources at Princeton is
under preparation. This will include an introduction to the collections,
highlights of certain areas of strength, tips for navigating the
various databases and catalogues, and finding aids for manuscript
and archival collections, etc. We have a long-term commitment to
the building of finding aids, checklists, and other tools designed
to connect scholars with our holdings.
Occasional publications are jointly published by the University
Library and the Program in Hellenic Studies, with a focus on Hellenic
collections at Princeton.
Current monographs and serials (published in Greece or Cyprus)
are acquired through approval plan with Greek dealer. Retrospective
acquisitions are made through catalogues, auctions, and exchanges/purchases
of duplicates of other libraries, as well as purchases or gifts
of libraries of distinguished authors or scholars.
Acquisitions are made possible by annual University Library allocation;
additional funds provided by the Program in Hellenic Studies; gifts
(monetary or in-kind) from foundations, alumni, and friends of
the Program in Hellenic Studies. University Library staff members
(Order Division, Cataloguing, Preservation, and individual bibliographers)
involved with the Greek collections are paid through general Library
Collaboration with United States Libraries
While we have no formal links with other American libraries with
respect to modem Greek materials, we try to stay in close touch
with them so we understand their collecting and cataloguing priorities.
Collaboration with Greek Libraries
Through the Visiting Fellows Program established by the Program
in Hellenic Studies, we have financed visits by Greek librarians
(Gennadeios Library; University of Crete Library) or curators (Benaki
Museum). We maintain strong links with the above libraries, as
well as with the Hellenic Literary and Historical Archives (ELIA).
We have also funded visits of our librarians to Greece for seminars
in Greek libraries. We have donated an important collection of
duplicate materials to the University of Crete Library. We regularly
purchase duplicates of Greek libraries.
We are eager to explore joint projects or exchanges, within a
broader collaborative framework, with individual Greek or American
libraries whose interests and strengths relate to or complement
ours. Some possible ideas follow.
Possible Collaborative Projects with Greek Libraries
We are primarily looking to build on our strong connections with
certain Greek institutions and libraries with which we already
enjoy close links. We will consider collaboration with other libraries
whose collections are compatible with ours.
- Cataloguing of Greek books in Greece; exchange of R-LIN cataloguing records.
- Creating, maintaining, and sharing webpages (in English and Greek) with finding
aids of archival and manuscript collections in Greece that relate to our holdings.
- Creating collection-level RLIN/AMC bibliographic records for manuscript and archival holdings of particular Greek institutions.
- Creating, exchanging and sharing digitized text or image collections in areas of mutual interest.
- Internship program at Princeton for Greek librarians.
Possible Collaborative Projects with American Libraries
- Setting up network of modern Greek librarians in the United
States; create website of "Research Resources in Modern Greek Studies" and
link it to the Modern Greek Studies Association webpage that will
include an electronic searchable CENSUS ("Checklist of English-
Language Sources Useful for the Study") of Modern Greek Literature.
- Creating web-usable database of all finding aids for Hellenic
collections (archives, manuscripts, pamphlets, etc.) worldwide.
- Coordinating acquisitions, whenever appropriate; sharing information
on collection. development policies.
- Coordinating cataloguing priorities.
- Acquiring or exchanging duplicates.