Skip Navigation Links The Library of Congress >> Researchers
European Reading Room: European Division, Area Studies
  Home >> Online Publications >> Greek Conference

Head of AphroditeStrengthening Modern Greek Collections

Conference HOME - Agenda - Participants - Presentations - Working Groups - Conference Report

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.

Special Strengths

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 20th century.

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 interlibrary loan.


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 libraries.


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 External link 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 funds.

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.

II. Prospects

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.

  1.  Cataloguing of Greek books in Greece; exchange of R-LIN cataloguing records.
  2.  Creating, maintaining, and sharing webpages (in English and Greek) with finding aids of archival and manuscript collections in Greece that relate to our holdings.
  3.  Creating collection-level RLIN/AMC bibliographic records for manuscript and archival holdings of particular Greek institutions.
  4.  Creating, exchanging and sharing digitized text or image collections in areas of mutual interest.
  5.  Internship program at Princeton for Greek librarians.

Possible Collaborative Projects with American Libraries

  1.  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.
  2.  Creating web-usable database of all finding aids for Hellenic collections (archives, manuscripts, pamphlets, etc.) worldwide.
  3.  Coordinating acquisitions, whenever appropriate; sharing information on collection. development policies.
  4.  Coordinating cataloguing priorities.
  5.  Acquiring or exchanging duplicates.
  Top of Page Top of Page
  Home >> Online Publications >> Greek Conference
  The Library of Congress >> Researchers
  June 16, 2016
Legal | External Link Disclaimer

Contact Us:  
Ask a Librarian