The National Documentation Centre (EKT) offers readers and researchers a digital encyclopedia on the world of libraries from antiquity to the present day. The website 'About Libraries' (www.aboutlibraries.gr) was created to help the visitor navigate the places, historical periods and significant moments in the evolution of libraries, as well as famous, forgotten or lesser-known collections in Greece and abroad.
The purpose of this digital space is a systematic audit and showcasing of the history of libraries and their collections, as well as the creation of a hub for collecting material, information, research and for helping the networking of library people in Greece and all over the world.
The original idea belongs to K.S. Staikos, architect and book historian. At this stage the content is sourced from the rich material he has gathered through many years of systematic research on the architecture, history and content of libraries, as well as on publishing and printing. The material is organised in easy to understand records, based on processed and documented research data, accompanied by useful bibliographic references and a rich visual material collection (manuscript illuminations, woodcuts, etchings, lithographs, paintings, drawings, photographs of sculptures and monuments etc.)
EKT has developed a state of the art technological infrastructure, thanks to which the pre-existing content has been edited, curated and structured into thematic units with the options of alphabetical, chronological and geographical navigation, thus responding to various research requirements. At the same time, it has implemented the appropriate practices for the structured and methodologically sound production of new content, according to contemporary library standards and models of information representation.
The architecture of the website ensures its sustainability and extensibility, as well as the integration of new functions and services. It is the intention of EKT to give all library people the opportunity, if they so wish, to provide additional information and contribute their own short original texts describing each library’s individual collection, or adding to and complementing the existing records.
Universal dimension: From Greece to the international scientific and research communities
The 'About Libraries' website introduces the visitor to universal context of the birth and evolution of libraries across the centuries. The records describe the libraries and persons associated with them. The journey starts from antiquity, moving through ancient Greece and Rome to the Arab world, the Far East and today’s world. It is therefore aimed at the international scientific community and the world of knowledge, research and education. At the moment the content is bilingual (Greek and English), but in the future multilingualism will be expanded to include Arabic and Chinese as well.
By means of international cooperation, the ultimate goal is to gather material from important libraries around the world, further highlighting their intercultural and universal dimension, with a view to including libraries of all periods and places worldwide.
Along with the launch of the website, EKT has distributed an accompanying publication to libraries, cultural institutions and organisations, the pages of which portray representative types of libraries and emblematic examples that stand out in modern Greek history: the National Library of Greece, the Library of the Holy Monastery of Simonopetra, Koventareios Municipal Library of Kozani, Kostis Palamas Library, and the Library of the Faculty of Philosophy of the University of Athens.
Communication with the Greek libraries (public, municipal, university and private collections, libraries of organisations and institutions) is planned to continue in order to collect material suggested by them and to exploit various other sources already located by the project's implementation team.
By drawing data from the way in which 'About Libraries' is used by individual user communities, future improved versions will be developed, if required, with new functionalities and capabilities for displaying the material collected.
Among other things, the mission of the National Documentation Centre (EKT), a public interest body overseen by the Ministry of Digital Governance, is to collect, document, preserve and disseminate scientific and cultural content. With open aggregator portals and digital services available to the scientific and research communities, it promotes the digital transformation of the production of new knowledge. In collaboration with authoritative bodies, EKT showcases, enriches, connects and offers society scientific and cultural material and data for creative reuse and new use. Developing technological infrastructure, software and services, it continues to support the digitalization of libraries and information providers. By establishing good practices and common documentation and interoperability standards compatible with international standards, it maximizes accessibility and ensures the quality and long-term availability of digital content.