Agreement reached to protect the future of the classics library at the School: one of the largest classical studies libraries in the world

Wednesday 22 July 2009

A critical agreement has been reached between the Society for the Promotion of Hellenic Studies, the Society for the Promotion of Roman Studies, and the University of London, which will ensure that the classics library at the Institute of Classical Studies, one of the largest classical studies libraries in the world, will continue to exist as a single collection. It ends years of uncertainty over the future of the library that could have resulted in the collection being split apart. This new agreement provides for the whole library to be accommodated in dedicated space within the University’s Senate House. 

The classics library combines the collections of the Societies, which together comprise 65% of the library, with the University’s collection, and grew out of the library of the oldest classical society in the world (the Hellenic Society was founded in 1879, with the Roman Society following in 1910). The library currently totals more than 125,000 volumes, which puts it, in terms of size, in the top four of its kind in the world (after the Sackler Library in Oxford, the Carl Blegen Library in Cincinnati, and the library of the German Archaeological Institute in Rome). The agreement to maintain and protect the combined collections as a single library means that the Institute of Classical Studies, the home of the library, continues to be a powerful centre for classics in the UK. Professor Mike Edwards, Director of the Institute of Classical Studies, welcomes the security this agreement provides for the collection: “It finally ends several years of heated conflict over the library. The collection is certainly one of the finest and most prestigious classics libraries in the world, and attracts visitors from around the globe. This agreement means that the Institute will continue to be one of the major centres for the study of classics in the world, thus contributing significantly to the reputation of the School of Advanced Study which receives special funding from the HEFCE as the national centre for the promotion and facilitation of research in the humanities and social sciences”.

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