Young intruders in a 150 year old library

The National Library, Panepistimiou Av., Athens (1860)

All Athenians and tourists have seen that. How many have been inside?

I walk past the grand and beautiful building once a week, like most of us. I have so often used its pavement as a meeting point and I have been in marches going past it. Hunger strikes by Palestinians used to start nearby in the 80’s, conscientious objectors delivered information, then the Iraqis, the Afghans and so on. The National Library, lifted on its impressive marble staircases, work of a German architect, following his neoclassical dream in Athens of the 1900’s, was uncertain about herself. Her administrators had forgotten her and so did we. Things changed recently and I was fond of getting back in using it. Thanks to the Future Library programme I offered a workshop there. I particularly enjoyed two things: first, to turn the library rules upside down: unaccompanied children allowed, taking photographs, sitting on the floor, using crayons and scissors…Second, to experiment with the contrasts between old, stiff but wise space and young, flexible but ignorant age.

Groups of children making their photostories on the floor of the National Library.

For the final synthesis we found it best to work on the floor, while parents and readers were using the desks!

Maria Leonida guiding a group on their shooting.

Choosing the right picture.

4 children Shooting their story among the oldest books!

A new story among old books.