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by Archaeology Newsroom

The Gennadius library, an important cultural centre

The Gennadius Library is named after the diplomat and bibliophile Ioannis Gennadius (1844-1932), who 60 years ago donated his distinguished book collection to the American School of Classical Studies on the condition that the School would hold these books in trust for the Greeks and operate a library, accessible to the international community of scholars. To house the collection, the School constructed in 1923- 1925 a building in the Neoclassical style with the aid of the Greek Government and the Carnegie Corporation. To assist the enrichment of the collection, which originally numbered 26.000 volumes and now comprises over 70.000, the association “The Friends of the Gennadius Library” was instituted in 1964. The Gennadius Library, which is also a research institute offers to scholarship, through its rare collection, a wide range of items and topics referring to Greece: classic authors in first editions, editions of works of the Church Fathers, travellers’ descriptions, a rich collection of archaeological editions of the 18th -20th century, Byzantine texts, an impressive number of volumes on the Greek Revolution (1821 – 1829) and on Turkish history (1470 – 1500), a unique collection of information (archives, works of art) on the philhellene Lord Byron, modern Greek Literature. However, the most important possession the Library holds is its archives, like that of Ali Pasha, of the archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann and of the music conductor Dimitris Mitropoulos. Moreover, the Nobel-prize winning poet Odysseus Elytis has recently donated his papers to the Library in appreciation for its distinguished contribution to the study of Greek culture. The Gennadius Library is not only archives, books, catalogues and stacks but also an alive and active educational nucleus: the series of lectures and exhibitions held there verify this additional cultural character.