The first Greek lending library of London has launched with great success and aims to meet the need of book-lovers in Britain who have a passion for modern Greek literature and poetry. This mobile service, which has been in operation for only a year has seen huge public interest amongst Greeks and the wider British community.
EKIVIL (Elliniki Danistiki Vivliothiki Londino) is the Greek organisation behind this great initiative and it's an independent, non-profit organisation based in London. In cooperation with cultural organisations, they hope to promote Hellenic culture all over the United Kingdom.
Over the last few months EKIVIL ;has also been busy launching the Children's Reading Club, putting together events and Greek book presentations by the writers themselves, who conduct readings and theatrical performances for kids.
In the past year ;EKVIL has managed to host over 20 events in the heart of London, mainly in Greek bars and cafes, giving people all around the city an opportunity to meet and discuss modern Greek topics.
The first event of the lending library was so successful that even the organisers themselves were astonished at how much interest was shown.
"We booked a popular cafeteria where lots of young Greek people gather in London and brought about 150 books along with us to see how it would go," recalls EKVIL ’s director in Britain, Panagiota Nakou.
After the great response, meetings continued at different spots around town and membership quickly grew.
“The great thing is, it’s not just about borrowing a book, it is about meeting people. We wanted to create something new for the Greek community that is growing here in London. We are finding that people are spreading the word. Each time they come, they bring more Greeks along with them,” says Panagiota.
More dedicated volunteers have now come on board as demand for the library has grown and there are more than 280 members (mainly Greek and a few non-Greeks), with more than 3,000 book titles on offer and another 400-500 kids books to choose from.
Events take place on a Sunday and members can choose from a range of modern literature, poetry, short stories, history, and classic literature. Members can book online and are able to view new books that have also arrived from Greece.
The books are then given out at the meeting spots, and anyone can borrow up to three books for a period of two months.
"Our main challenge is bringing the books from Greece as they are heavy and we have new ones shipped over each month. The books are donated by the public and by publishers themselves,” says Panagiota.
EKVIL will soon be available in other Greek communities around Britain, as there has been a huge interest from Oxford, Cambridge, Manchester, and Wales. Their next step is to also include the operation of a Greek lending library for English speakers, mainly through digital books, in collaboration with publishing houses in Greece.
"British people can find translated Greek classics and ancient novels, but not modern Greek books. We want to get the Brits reading more modern Greek books, "says Panagiota.