Some thoughts about the re-opening of the BSA library
After careful consideration, the British School at Athens reopened its library to members and readers on 3 June, after a long period of general lockdown. The library adapted its protocols to meet the new regulations in force to ensure safety for users and staff. These are reviewed regularly and are posted on our website. Several library users expressed their satisfaction and gratitude for this decision and we asked some of them to write to us their comments on re-opening. Their warm responses, posted here with their permission, assure us that we made the right decision.
I am grateful to the Library of the British School at Athens for facilitating my own and my students’ research after its re-opening in June 2020. I am grateful to the staff for taking every safety measure to assist researchers and students who went through a difficult period during the COVID-19 pandemic. The lack of electronic sources available to Greek Universities and Research Institutions made libraries even more indispensable during the lockdown.
Libraries should always find a way to be open and accessible to all researchers (not just members) and to cope with current circumstances. The Library of the BSA rose to the occasion.
Dr. Dimitra Andrianou, Senior Researcher, National Hellenic Research Foundation.
I have regularly used the British School Library for the past 50 years and have always appreciated its unique atmosphere, which is at once cosy, congenial, and liberal. I was therefore immensely grateful when, following its long-standing tradition, it opened to readers as soon as the first anti-Covid 19 measures were relaxed, at a time when other libraries remained inaccessible.
Professor Polymnia Athanassiadi, Historian
The BSA holds a special place in my heart. Since I first came as an Erasmus student in 2014, I have been lucky enough to return to the library many times over the years, most recently after the COVID lockdown. The reopening of the library in June was a great opportunity to continue my research in a familiar setting during these challenging times. I was able to use the BSA collection to improve my work, and being back at the School I also received fundamental emotional support to start up again after the lockdown. I am really grateful to the amazing people working at the library, and at the School in general for making me feel at home away from home.
Iro’ Beatrice Camici, PhD candidate, University of Genoa (former Erasmus award holder, Fitch Laboratory)
In these hard times of corona virus, with the majority of libraries being closed or partly working I ought to thank the administration and staff of the Library of the British School at Athens for opening its doors to Greek and foreign scholars and allowed us to continue our research, while taking all necessary safety measures. Special thanks to the librarians for their kindness and high quality of services they provide.
Eleftheria Ioannidou, PhD candidate, University of Ioannina
It was such a delight to be able to return to the BSA library post-lockdown and see some familiar faces (even if they were half covered!). After the months of isolation without access to research resources, I was incredibly grateful to be able to regain access to the library and to be welcomed back into the library community with social distancing measures being sensibly carried out by the library staff and users.
Dr. Anna Moles, Assistant Director, Irish Institute of Hellenic Studies at Athens (former BSA Student)
Stepping back into the library in June took some adjusting to. Three months sequestered away in a 50 square metre flat in Panormou squinting at poorly digitized copies of commentaries on Strabo had clearly taken its toll. Was the Penrose Reading Room always this cavernous? Or had someone raised the ceiling since my last visit? Despite the initial confusion, it is a joy to be back again, especially while access to university libraries in the UK remains heavily restricted. I count myself very fortunate.
Malcolm Nicholson, post-graduate researcher, Durham University
In periods of crisis, such as the pandemic we currently experience, research still needs to continue uninterrupted. The British School at Athens being a glorious exception, opened its doors to scholars straight after lock-down. By following new hygiene protocols, we can safely continue our study within the library and we are immensely thankful for that.
Anastasia Vergaki, PhD candidate, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens
Being able to work in the BSA library has been life-saving – finally having access to all the books I need and to be able to complete articles well beyond their deadline is a huge relief. And after 4 months at my desk at home it is a real joy to do research in the calm and inspirational atmosphere of a well-stocked library.
Dr. Alexandra Villing, Curator, The British Museum (former BSA Visiting Fellow)