We have one of the world's finest collections of Greek and Cyprus imprints, as well as of material about these countries published elsewhere, covering all periods of their history and all aspects of their rich and varied heritage.
About the collection
The Library's copy of the first issue of the Greek Constitution of 1822 is believed to have belonged to Lord Byron as the binding bears his initials. We also have the Official Government Gazette from 1833 onwards and its predecessor, Γενική Εφημερίς της Ελλάδος, published in Nauplio, Aigina and Poros between 1825 and 1832.
Our holdings of pre-19th century books in Greek were greatly enriched in 1835 by the purchase of 627 Greek printed books in one of the sales of the collection of Frederick North, 5th Earl of Guilford, a great devotee of Greek and Italian culture. Large numbers of manuscripts, including Greek manuscripts, had already been acquired in the main auction of the collection, in December 1830).
Our holdings of material published in the Ionian Islands (1815-1864) and Cyprus (1878-1960) while they were under British rule and acquired through Colonial Deposit regulations are of exceptional richness and importance.
What is available online?
There are various Modern Greek resources available online, including:
- Ethnike Vivliotheke tes Hellados - the website of the National Library of Greece includes online catalogues of its collections, the Greek National Bibliography
- Vivliotheke tes Voules ton Hellenon - the Hellenic Parliament website provides access to important parts of its collections which have been digitised; they include newspapers, journals, historical parliamentary archives, and constitutions and standing orders
- ZEPHYR - a union catalogue of academic libraries in Greece.
What is available in our Reading Rooms?
The British Library's online catalogue, Explore the British Library, can be used to search for Greek printed material and order it to a Reading Room.
Transliteration of Modern Greek (Humanities reader guide, no. 6), available in the Reading Rooms, provides the British Museum transliteration rules for pre-1975 headings as well as the Library of Congress transliteration rules for post-1975 headings and titles.
Most post-1850 Modern Greek printed books and periodicals can be ordered to any of our Reading Rooms, usually within 70 minutes, although an increasing amount of material is held at our Boston Spa site in Yorkshire and may take up to two days to arrive.
Pre-1850 material can be consulted in the Rare Books and Music Reading Room, while newspapers, maps and manuscripts are available in their own respective Reading Rooms. All the reading rooms have some reference works on open shelves, including bibliographies, catalogues, dictionaries and general reference works.
A large number of electronic resources are also available through the Reading Room PCs. Staff are available to offer bibliographic and other basic research assistance.