Libraries were always the medium between mankind and book. The term "Library" was initially used for private collections, while later the term mainly referred to "restricted access" collections (ex a monastery or a university). Nowadays the role of the Library is much more multidimensional. A Library includes both the building and the collections of books and journals, but is also a custodian trustee of intellectual production, promoting and propagating knowledge.
The contemporary academic library is a knowledge management centre that not only offers access to collections of books and journals but also collects, produces and propagates information and knowledge. Technological evolution urges libraries, not to be reduced in their traditional role, but to develop the New Technologies, evolving into portals of knowledge, research and education within the University. Due to technological innovations, the services are evolving and a vast number of material is also in electronic form, while many resources are nowadays accessible only electronically.
The University of Athens is the oldest higher educational institution of the country. On April 14th, 1837 with the publication of the decree "About the Foundation of University", the idea of the foundation of the first university of the Modern Greek state and the first contemporary university in the Eastern Mediterranean is realised.
The University was initially called "Othonian University" (Οθώνειον Πανεπιστήμιον) and consisted of only four Schools: the School of Philosophy, the School of Law, the School of Theology and the School of Medicine. It took up its residence in a neoclassical building on the north - eastern side of Acropolis that was later renovated and today is in operation as the University’s Museum.
In 1891 the Administration Offices and the educational Departments were relocated to the Central Building at Panepistimiou Street, to the Seat of the Institution. While still on construction on the front wing (known as Propylaea), actions were taken to establish a Library and special collections, necessary for the teaching and the scientific constitution of students. In 1862, as a consequence of the fall of King Otto of Greece, the institution changed its name to "National University". In 1866 the Library of the University and the Public Library were united into the National Library that was housed to the upper floor of the University till 1903, when it was relocated to a neighbouring neoclassical building.
In 1932 the University was officially named "National and Kapodistrian University of Athens", in honour of the first Governor of Greece Ioannis Kapodistrias. In the 21st century, the NKUA is the largest Academic Institution of the country with eight Schools and thirty three Departments, with over 40.000 students.
- the development and the maintenance of collections of books, scientific Journals and other informative material.
- the development and the maintenance of collections with archival or historical value
- providing the academic community (Professors, researchers, students, disabled students, administrative staff) with Reference services
- providing access to a wide spectrum of electronic sources such as journals, books, bibliographic databases, digital collections and portals indenting to facilitate education and research.
- the active prominence and dissemination of cultural inheritance.
NKUA is an active member of the Hellenic Academic Libraries Link (Heal Link), a collaboration of all educational institutions in the country, which aims at promoting cooperation among institutions via electronic access to the reference resources of the academic libraries. Negotiations among the Ministry of Education and Publishing Houses regarding the combined supply of journals to the institutions that are members of Heal Link, resulted in agreement.