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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 20 January 2018
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 20 JANUARY 2018 9 NEWS FEATURE Dr Filippos Tsimpoglou, Director General of the National Library of Greece PHOTO: GIORGOS OIKONOMOPOULOS Reading rooms at the NLG Public Library Section. PHOTO: THEOPHILOS GERONTOPOULOS Dr Tsimpoglou (C), oversees project design and implementation in a reading room of the NLG. PHOTO: EPA/SIMELA PANTZARTZI An employee attaches RFID labels to the books. PHOTO: SIMELA PANTZARTZI ative stated that libraries’ missions for the future should not only contribute towards literacy and overcoming the digital divide, but also implement community programs that connect people with their community and reinforce social cohesion. As a result, libraries in Victoria provide literacy programs for socially excluded children, lifelong learning initiatives for the unemployed, and a network of libraries and even mobile libraries for those who live in remote areas. Do you have any similar initiatives in mind for the near future? The NLG is due to play a new role in society, transforming into a dynamic, supportive, and interactive organisation that transmits values and promotes the significance of knowledge and the sciences. Consequently, we are planning to establish a new Public Library Section of the NLG, an initiative which is highly groundbreaking for any national Library at an international level. The section will serve the general public, who will soon be able to borrow books and make use of the rich printed and audiovisual resources in a pleasant and friendly environment. It should be noted that the Public Library Section of the NLG will provide services to preschool, primary, and adolescent children, in a wide range of educational and interactive programs. In addition, it will include fully equipped recording and recording studios, a radio station, showrooms, meetings, workshops as well as small spaces designated to play and learn activities. At present, the library is providing use of its premises to various community groups, such as refugee and migrant groups, to publish their own local newspapers, read the news, and create their own narrative within Greek society. You have stated that "when you read many books, you live many lives since you live your life and the lives of the books' characters". However, many young people - who do not have time for leisure, or are under pressure to respond to their exams successfully - distort your perspective and argue that when 'you read, you forget to live or you only live via the books' characters'. What more can we advise them about the world of books? One-dimensionality… may cause health damage. If my statement is read carefully, then its clear that "live your life" is a precondition, and that is in exact opposition to the ideology of living only through the life of oth- Children’s Library in Karabournaki, Trikala. ers. The experiences gained from contact with the ‘other’, whether by reading or by essential personal communications, enrich our thoughts and feelings, they do not subtract from them. Literacy connects us with the thoughts, ideas, knowledge, practices, stories and lives of people we may never meet, simply because our lives do not converge geographically, historically, culturally or socially. Reading allows us to overcome these constraints, allowing us to transcend time and space, to ‘meet’ different people, to lean about them, coexist, converse and empathise with them. At the same time, by reading, we share our own personal experiences, shape our own questions and objections, and discover our own feelings and issues while considering the events portrayed in books. In one of your interviews you mentioned that you learnt to read from your father, a working class miner, who always prompted and motivated you to learn. Since our intention is to reach and connect with children and parents from different socioeconomic backgrounds, can you give us some advice on the personality traits that someone must possess to make positive change and lead the way? My mother taught me the alphabet's first letters. She wanted to become a teacher. However, she experienced a difficult childhood that kept her from following her dream. She went to school only for one year. Poor and orphaned, she could not even afford a notebook. The teacher, in an effort to help, tasked her with helping other schoolchildren who needed help with "their letters", and they, in turn, would allow her to use a single row in each page of their notebooks at the end of each lesson. Years later, she became my teacher, providing me with the little, but so much, she had learned. Thanks to her I was able to read and write before I even started school. My father came to Greece as a baby, a refugee from Asia Minor, ending up orphaned and alone quite young. He completed the Year 4 of his primary school education, so it fell to him to oversee the higher levels of my education, all the way up to decimals - telling me I'd have to figure out, "fractions and beyond by yourself." My father was distinguished for his innate curiosity and his intrinsic need to clarify things. So, I think someone who wants to change things for the better and lead the way must comprehend what peo- An NLG preservation technician at work. PHOTO: SIMELA PANTZARTZI ple like my parents craved and were simultaneously deprived of. The story of my parents and the countless others like them aren't just pained family histories. Stories like these reflect the personal experiences of people, and express the need for universal human rights, such as peace, democracy, access to knowledge, education, medical care, the freedom of self-expression, and respect for all. At the same time, I think that being concerned about all the factors that hinder progress, and attempting to truly understand these factors is also an essential trait for anyone wanting to change things for the better. Ultimately, the basis for im- provement is in having the sense of responsibility encased in being afforded the opportunity to utilise experiences that others have been deprived of. Last summer, the NLG promoted a series of educational programs and activities. What kind of information should we provide to the Greeks of the diaspora, who live in Melbourne and visit Athens during the summer, if they wish to spend some quality time with their children? The NLG welcomes the Greeks of the diaspora to its new facilities at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center. Come share the NLG's panoramic view of Athens, which extends from the Acropolis to Faliro, meet the staff, admire the collections, the archival treasures, the services, and get to know the library itself - taking pride in all our National Library is. The National Library is here to support and contribute to the growth of the Greeks of the diaspora, hoping to help them maintain a lively and strong relationship with Greece. Hellenism and Greek culture are not limited to Greece, and references to Greece are not limited to the city of Athens. In the past four years, since 2014, the NLG has organised the Summer Reading and Creativity Campaign, in joined participation with over 150 libraries from all regions of the country. Every year, we focus on a theme and set our imagination free, finding thousands of ways to impart the joys of books, literacy, discovery and learning to new generations of audiences. We hope to also create a relationship between the Greeks of the diaspora and the local library of their native home - whether that's an island, village, town, or city centre of Greece - so they may becomes even more tied to the land of their ancestors.
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