The National Library of Greece (NLG) has taken a decisive step into the digital era, providing users with access to more than 200 million electronic documents and databases. These digital resources can be sought out directly through the NLG search engine on the library’s new, user-friendly website (www.nlg.gr), which permits access to the electronic documents, or through the e-resources page, which provides information on specific online resource platforms along with their access links.
Users that visit the NLG website have access to open resources like the Portal for the Greek Language, but also protected ones like the Brepolis Latin Complete Collection, or the American Antiquarian Society’s online research library.
“We wanted to centralize access to all the available resources, not just the ones provided by the NLG; if an open resource is trustworthy, relevant and serious, the NLG will display it in the search results. That way, users can carry out all their research from one place. The NLG will never reference a resource that is not available through our network,” Dr Michalis Gerolimos, systems and e-resources librarian and coordinator of the whole project, told Kathimerini English Edition.
The NLG is the first library in Greece to have access to many of these resources, which have been bought or subscribed to. They have been split in terms of accessibility into three categories: open electronic resources, available to anyone anywhere, resources with restricted access to users connected to the NLG network, and remote-access resources. Remote-access resources are those with restricted access that can be remotely accessed by NLG subscribers only. Each category comes with a relevant typographic symbol to allow quick and easy recognition of the resource type.
The system is a true novelty in Greece. Indeed, the NLG is the first public library in the country to grant its users remote access to e-resources. Remote access is made possible in just one simple step: Subscribed users must visit the NLG at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center in southern Athens and ask for it; by doing so, they can gain access to the available content from anywhere simply by signing in to their NLG account. The resources that are available for remote access comprise approximately 80 million documents, a figure which is constantly growing.
“What we are interested in are the users, and how we can provide them with exactly what they are looking for. We are currently working on enriching the list of remote-access resources and simplifying the whole process of granting access. If somebody is abroad and can’t physically come to the NLG to ask for remote access, we will do everything in our power to help that person,” Gerolimos added.
Another positive outcome of the project is that it will draw international students who want to study in Greece, as the NLG gives them access to a lot of premium content written in languages other than Greek.
“We want to enhance our country’s academic and research communities. We tried to go by a certain reasoning of providing content that is not offered by Greek universities, as the goal was not to devalue them or to steal their users. As the National Library, we focused on Classical and Greek studies. We followed a circular logic, placing Classical, Greek humanities and social studies at the center,” Gerolimos commented.
The NLG has been collecting documents, books and other material pertaining to Greece’s cultural heritage since 1829. In 2018 the library was relocated to the SNFCC in Faliro. More than 5,000 manuscripts dating from the 9th to the 20th century are safeguarded in the library’s bookstacks and vaults.