After the “silence” during the pandemic, the “K. Th. Dimaras” Library of Science, Technology and Culture of the National Research Foundation (NRF), the largest library of scientific journals in Greece, reopened its doors to researchers and to the public.
The library, like the entire HEI, is located in the emblematic building of Constantinos Doxiadis and Dimitris Pikionis, in the center of Athens.
A library in an iconic building
The library is dedicated to the co-founder and first CEO of the National Research Foundation. It was created immediately after the establishment of the EIE (then Royal Research Foundation), in 1958. Describing the circumstances of the creation of the Research Foundation and the library, the historian and Emeritus Director of Research at the EIE Historical Research Institute , Vassilis Panagiotopoulos, described during an event related to the reopening of the library that in 1958 and essentially in 1960, after two years of preparation, “the idea of a library of magazines is fixed in the minds of very few people”.
The history of the library.
“When it was decided to establish the Royal Research Foundation there was no experience of large research centers in the country. Neither how to establish a research institution was obvious, nor its content, nor its object,” said Mr. Panagiotopoulos, adding: “Here was Dimaras’ great contribution on how to organize this scheme, how to transplant to Greece the scientific research concept.” Dimaras, continued Mr. Panagiotopoulos, copied the French model, which was the French National Research Foundation (CNRS) “and copied another French CNRS institution, the journal library. The CNRS did not build its own library, as in France there were libraries, university and national. He created something original for his time, a journal library, because it was a time when scientific research was emerging, the conclusions of which were communicated through journals.”
As a research assistant at the Research Foundation at the time, Vassilis Panagiotopoulos recalls the construction period of the Foundation building, where the library is also located. His study was assigned to the architects Dimitris Pikionis and Konstantinos Doxiadis. The building complex was founded on May 10, 1965 in the area of the royal stables and handed over in October 1968. It is one of the basic models of public architecture in Greece in the 1960s and 1970s and the first of the postwar period. Greek State office building, which aligns with modern trends and is a faithful application of the modern doctrine “Form follows function”.
At the time the building was being built, “Dimaras ordered magazines and piled them up in the Scholarship Foundation,” as the emeritus director of the Historical Research Institute says. He describes the library as “a paradise for scientists, since it had journals on all subjects and all countries. It was fully and validly informed.” However, the great “trauma” of the library for Vassilis Panagiotopoulos came from the internet “and the library must now find its new balance”, to play a role “that must be reinvented”.
“Knowledge transformation center” the library
Speaking to APE-MBE, EIE Chairman and Director of the EIE, Demosthenes Sarigiannis, emphasizes that his goal for the future of the library is “to have more services in collaboration with other libraries in the Athens area. We are trying to create a network so that it works even more unified and because it has the particularity of being within a research center of national scope, to also function as an axis of transformation of knowledge, a space for reflection and translation of knowledge in terms of wisdom that it must govern our decisions, political, social or technological in a series of areas that touch our lives’.
Having spent his student years in this library, Mr. Sarigiannis emphasizes that it is for him “a very basic channel of scholarship in what we all want the HEI to be, a center for the development of the Greek scientific and research community in the social realm”. terms. Not research for the sake of research, but very good quality scientific knowledge to respond to social challenges”. Another bet, he adds, is that “we want to see our present and future in a broader context, of general dissemination of scientific knowledge, and this has to do with what we call Open Science, another axis that will also be developed through the library . This is our vision for HEI and the library is a key channel.”
In 1989, when the National Documentation Center (EKT) was established, the library and its services were transferred to the jurisdiction of the EKT, which was co-located with the EIE. Recently, with the reestablishment of the ECB and its autonomy from the EIE, by law of 2019 the library passed again, at the request of EIE researchers, to the jurisdiction of the National Research Foundation. Demosthenes Sarigiannis points out that the ECB’s withdrawal from the EIS “clearly redefines its role. It was very important to us that the library continued to exist.”
Newspapers and rare books in the library
The “K. Th. Dimaras” Library is located on the ground floor of the EIE building complex occupying approximately 2,500 square meters. Its collection includes 1,826 print titles and 1,540 electronic scientific journal titles spanning the fields of natural sciences and humanities. In recent years, only the electronic collection has been enriched through subscriptions, but also through the participation of the HEI in the HEAL-Link consortium of Greek Academic Libraries. Users have access to e-journal titles, books, and reputable publisher databases, as well as reference and citation databases.
The library also has rare periodicals and books of special historical value. Among them is the Liège collection with 46 rare titles of journals and monographs related to the History of Sciences, donated by Efthymios Nicolaidis, Emeritus Director of Research at the Foundation’s Institute for Historical Research. In addition, the Kariatoglou archive, which refers to the record of Greek newspapers and magazines (1790-1990), as well as the collection of related information. The archive includes 15,000 newspaper titles and 5,000 magazine titles.
*Photos from National Research Foundation “K. Th. Dimaras” Library, provided by EIE to APE-MPE for use