The new building for the National Library of Greece (NLG) modernized an institution founded in 1832, allowing it to strengthen its research role while expanding, at the same time, its focus from an exclusive research facility to an all-inclusive public resource. In its new and enlarged role, the NLG supports patrons of all ages and education - from academic researchers to children and young adults destined to become the next generation of users.
Within its new premises, at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center, the entrance to the National Library of Greece leads into a large open lobby that provides an immediate visual orientation to all the organization’s functions. The NLG Public Library Section, bolstered by a significant book collection and other media, includes separate areas for adults, teenagers, and children and offers a wide range of educational and cultural programs. The natural light available throughout the NLG helps create an open hospitable environment for individual and collaborative learning. Events and seminars hosted for both children and adults and classes incorporate natural learning opportunities originating from collaborative programs at the Stavros Niarchos Park as well.
The nearly 24,000 m2 (235,000 sq. ft.) state-of-the-art building combines traditional with technological innovation, conservation with information and communication. The flexibility of its design, informed by consultations with the prominent British Library, ensures that the National Library can respond effectively to ever-changing needs and the challenges of the digital age. A nationwide digitization project will help make heritage materials available to the public and will offer access to the Library’s various collections. Connectivity with other libraries both nationally and globally will allow the Library’s users access to material abroad that is relevant to Greece or Hellenism. In addition, a Business Center provides the public with an active hub for enterprise, knowledge, and innovation, offering computer workstations, laptops, and wireless connectivity.
A modern academic research facility found within the National Library is an exemplar for other institutions. The new building enables all existing research collections, previously located in three separate buildings, to be housed in a centralized location, with optimized access to collections for researchers and scholars.
Holdings include over 4,500 manuscript codices from the 9th to the 19th centuries and a rich variety of important historical documents and archives. Modernized climate control, preservation, and digitization facilities ensure that the Library’s significant rare manuscript collection is available for future generations of scholars. The National Library of Greece also has the capacity to function as a venue for exhibitions of its holdings.
The iconic Book Castle is situated in the lobby of the National Library of Greece, which is visible from the Agora, through the glass façade, declaring its identity to the visitor before even entering the building.
The 18m tall Book Castle is square, each side measuring 20 meters, and it reaches the top of the building. This volume is surrounded by a system of light balconies and stack rooms, filled with books. On the ground floor, the Book Castle hosts a multi-purpose area, ideal for seminars, lectures and small scale music events. The Book Castle communicates with the rest of the Library’s reading room levels, also hosting thematic reading rooms.
A moving aluminum and fabric sculpture made by Japanese artist Susumu Singu is suspended from the roof. Entitled Myth, it is accompanied by the phrase: “Science, history, literature and art cross over beyond time and space.”
The roof of the Library is covered by green (green roof) and is part of the Stavros Niarchos Park.