Posts Tagged ‘modern greek’


Library Catalog Support for Unicode Greek

March 31, 2010

The current concern over transliteration rules for modern Greek in library catalogs reminded me that I meant to write up the results of a brief inquiry I made last fall about the display of Greek characters in library catalogs.

Many newer library catalog software programs support Unicode characters, which allow them to display languages not written in the roman alphabet: Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Russian, Arabic – and, of course, Greek.  However, not too many libraries have yet taken advantage of the ability to display Greek publications in Greek characters.  Here are the ones I have found that have:

Harvard’s HOLLIS catalog (Classic catalog only; linked from supports searching in Greek. They are adding new records for works in Greek with dual MARC fields, one in Greek Unicode and one romanized. They have started doing this since 2006, and are not currently adding anything retrospectively.

The AMBROSIA catalog, of the British and American Schools in Athens (including Gennadius; has all works in Greek displaying and searchable in Greek Unicode, but NOT available romanized. These records were directly converted from Greek paper records to digital records. You can get the catalog to display MARC fields in the public interface.

Zephyr (, a gateway to Greek academic library catalogs developed and maintained by the University of Crete, has supported Unicode since 2006.

Many thanks to librarians Deborah Brown Stewart of Dumbarton Oaks, Jacquelene Riley of Cincinnati, and commenter pagraham (and others) on the Librarything thread, who contributed to my understanding of this topic.


Changes in Modern Greek Transliteration for Libraries?

March 29, 2010

One of the resources I’ve looked to in my quest to get up to speed on Classics librarianship is the Consortium of Hellenic Studies Librarians (CoHSL) list-serv.  The list has been quite active for the past several weeks discussing proposed changes to the modern Greek transliteration tables used by the Library of Congress.  These changes would be of the most consequence to those who work regularly with modern Greek publications, both the librarians who catalog and work with them, and researchers who look for them.  For Classicists, those who read modern Greek and rely on publications about Greek archaeology, history and language and literature in Greek would be affected.

Librarians’ concerns about the proposed changes are now handily summed up in an online petition created by Deborah Brown Stewart (Librarian, Byzantine Studies, Dumbarton Oaks Research Library, and, full disclosure, an old friend of mine) and Rhea K. Lesage (Head and Bibliographer for Modern Greek, Modern Greek Section, Collection Development, Widener Library, Harvard College Library.)  Examples  – such as  how one refers to Heraklion/Eraklion/Eraklio, the city in Crete – help to make the impact of the proposed changes more concrete to the researcher who only occasionally works with modern Greek materials.