Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Petition re. Changes in CL Greek transliteration tables

The following message is being widely distributed:
Dear colleagues in Classical, Patristic, Byzantine, and modern Greek studies (with apologies for cross-posting),

As most of you know, U.S. libraries follow the transliteration standards for non-Latin scripts that are set by the American Library Association and the Library of Congress. In December 2009, without any communication to ALA or the Greek studies librarian community, LC approved significant changes to the transliteration tables of modern Greek, intended to reflect Greece's legislation in 1982 about monotonic Greek.

The consequences of this change are many, in large part, because the LC mandate means that libraries must eliminate the "h" (that represents the rough breathing) for all records where monotonic Greek should be represented and retain the "h" in all cases of polytonic Greek. Just to give you a sense of what that means: You will need to search for "historia" AND "istoria" unless you know that you are looking for something polytonic or monotonic. Furthermore, you will need to know whether the library in which you are searching was able to complete a complex and expensive retrospective version project to change old records created between 1982 and 2010 (much of the burden falls on libraries individually). This mandate significantly impacts everyone who uses books or journals published in Greece in an American library.

We have created an online petition to protest this change and insist that the LC mandate be tabled indefinitely, pending further discussion with the librarian and scholarly communities. If you are concerned, please sign it and distribute it to others who will also be affected (your Classics/Patristic/Byzantine/modern Greek colleagues and librarians at your home institutions).


Deborah Brown Stewart

Librarian, Byzantine Studies

Dumbarton Oaks Research Library

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