Hellenic Archive of Literature and History appeals

The Hellenic Archive of Literature and History (ELIA), which in recent years has succeeded in amassing an invaluable collection of archives, publications, photographs, maps and ephemera charting the country’s course over the past 170 years, is to receive 100,000 euros in state funding, Deputy Culture Minister Petros Tatoulis promised earlier this month. The sum will be a shot in the arm for the archive, housed in an imposing building on Aghiou Andreou Street in Plaka, close to Athens Cathedral. ELIA is a treasure-trove that came into existence in a somewhat amateur fashion out of pure love of the subject. As time went by and as the material began to increase, knowledge expanded and demands grew, it became an organization open to researchers and the challenges of technology. As a repository of Greek history, ELIA has gained the trust of its friends and supporters. Historical memory All those who have used its facilities, from the sales outlet to its excellent publications which provide glimpses of the material stored in the building, know that without ELIA a large part of historical memory as well as the ability to document many chapters of Greece’s public and private life would not be possible. For years now, ELIA’s work has been progressing by leaps and bounds, as the public has been enthusiastically coming forward to provide it with more valuable material. Whether prominent figures’ entire archives or private collections, or even just a single photograph, a program, an old toy, map or advertisement, each finds its place at ELIA. Everything is made use of and, thanks to the digital program, a large section of its photographic archive has been preserved forever. These days, under the guidance of Manos Haritatos and his worthy colleagues, ELIA provides services that elsewhere would be the job of the state. «As a non-profit organization in the form of a society, for the last 25 years,» according to its board of directors, «ELIA carries out the important job of preserving the (country’s) cultural heritage and makes a substantial contribution to promoting the study of the humanities.» The minister’s pledge to provide extra funds will be a much-needed boost. Before this was announced, ELIA had issued an appeal, saying that it was in the red, due to the increasing costs of adding to collections, recording material and subsequently making it available. ELIA signed a contract with the Culture Ministry for 1998-2003 for specific research programs. Its full members pay 30 euros a year, its donor members pay a minimum yearly contribution of 50 euros. It is from the private sector that ELIA’s management hopes it will find continuing financial support, as the volume of donated material continues to grow apace, and with it, the operational and administrative costs of maintaining it.

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