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Greece and the Modern Greek Collections in the Library of Congress

Modern Greek materials are held throughout the Library of Congress. The European Reading Room is the reference point for these holdings. This guide provides an overview of materials, in different formats, in the general and special collections.


Athènes. Parthénon. 1850-1910. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

The Modern Greek collection comprises about 65,000 volumes of books and bound periodicals, as well as non-print materials such as music scores, maps and atlases, prints and photographs, manuscripts, motion pictures, and sound recordings. For this collection overview, we consider Modern Greek to coincide with the end of the Byzantine Empire, in 1453. The European Reading Room's responsibility for building the Modern Greek collection begins with 1821, the onset of the Greek War of Independence from the Ottoman Empire. [Reference services for Ancient Greek are provided in the Researcher and Reference Services Division]. The period from 1821 and forward amounts to about 50,000 volumes of books and bound periodicals, with about 70% in the Greek language and the remainder primarily in West European languages.

Systematic collecting of materials from or about Greece began in 1969 with the appointment of a specialist for Greece in the Slavic and Central European Division (now the Latin America, Caribbean, and European Division). Before that, materials were received primarily on exchange with Greek academic, governmental, and professional organizations; transfers from other U.S. government agencies; and purchases through various agents. The results were quite good, abetted by events such as the acquisitions trip by Jennings Wood, Assistant Chief of the Exchange & Gift Division, to Athens in 1959 to improve official exchanges, and the recommendations for additions to the literature collection made in 1960 by consultant Andonis Decavalles, a Greek poet who reported favorably on the Library's holdings in this field.

The acquisitions situation proved volatile in the 1970s, with several changes of blanket-order dealers and unreliable receipts from exchange partners in the Greek government, and from academic and professional organizations. A reliable book dealer for commercial publications was engaged in 1984, following an acquisitions trip by the Assistant Chief of the European Division to Greece. In 1988 a reliable supplier of non-commercial publications, in the form of a bibliographic services contractor, was employed. Currently, the Library's coverage of Greek publications may be considered excellent.


In addition to this overview guide of the Modern Greek collections, staff of the Library of Congress have produced several other more detailed guides on Greek resources. They are linked below.