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Conservation at the National Library of Greece: the transition's aftermath

Zoitsa Gkinni (Department of Conservation, National Library of Greece, Athens, Greece)
Nikolas Sarris (Department of Conservation, National Library of Greece, Athens, Greece)

Library Management

ISSN: 0143-5124

Article publication date: 15 March 2023

Issue publication date: 8 August 2023




The National Library of Greece (NLG) was founded in 1832 and since 1903 it had been housed at the Vallianeio building, a landmark in the center of Athens. With a history of nearly two centuries and significant collections, the library moved its headquarters to its new building at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center in 2018. This transfer marks its transition to a new era, a restart for the library and an opportunity for upgrades, improvements and expansion of its services, redefinition of its role and connection to society. In this context, the conservation department contributed greatly to this program, to the successful transfer of collections and paved the way for its upgraded role at its new facilities.


This paper reflects on the transition program and part of the projects executed, in terms of expectations and the new reality, under the scope of conservation of collections'. With a critical view, the authors present the Conservation Department's contribution during relocation and the transition's aftermath on the reality of their everyday professional routine.


Conservators' role emerged during this transition. Lessons learned, new challenges, opportunities and growth in conservation actions, improved communication with departmental liaisons; and targeted communication with the public and end users.

Practical implications

The NLG designed and undertook a broad and complicated transition program under a collaborative scheme between the public and private sectors. Time, budget and human resource limitations did not allow for in-depth documentation and research on the collection status prior to transfer.


The transition of the NLG was a multidimensional program with short and long-term outcomes. The project design and on time and budget execution provided a new set of standards and services for the library and re-established its connections with the public. As such, this case study can contribute to a better understanding and management of actions and expectations in related large-scale projects.



In memory of This paper is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Filippos Tsimpoglou, Director General of the National Library of Greece, who recently passed away. His vision and commitment inspired all the authors. Under his guidance, dedication and hard work, the transfer of the Library was completed successfully, an objectively challenging mega-project as a pivotal step for the transition of the National Library of Greece to a new area and a new role, a role he believed wholeheartedly that the NLG always deserved to have and it was possible to happen.


Gkinni, Z. and Sarris, N. (2023), "Conservation at the National Library of Greece: the transition's aftermath", Library Management, Vol. 44 No. 5, pp. 388-396.



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