The People of CYA – An Interview With Georgia Katsarou
On the third floor of CYA, Tucked away in the library, is one of our best-kept secrets, Georgia Katsarou, our Academic Librarian. Since joining CYA in 2006, she has been the key person faculty and students go to for her expertise. Georgia is a goldmine of useful information regarding academic research and study. Born and raised in Athens, Georgia received her Bachelor’s Degree in Library Studies at the Technological Educational Institute of Athens, and her Master’s in Information and Library Studies at the University of Aberystwyth. She lives in Athens with her husband and their two children Marina aged 7 and Nikolas aged 4. In her spare time Georgia enjoys fiction and reading stories aloud to her children, but her unique talent is to create beautifully intricate embroideries that bring to life the beauty of the things that inspire her.
How/Why did you choose to be a Librarian?
Everything started when I first went to my neighborhood’s public library at the age of 7. The environment was so friendly, warm and welcoming that I kept going frequently and when I discovered that you can study this profession I knew that this would be the ideal job for me. I still remember the first books that I borrowed, they were Spot’s stories by Eric Hill.
Athens – embroidery by CYA Librarian Georgia Katsarou
Briefly describe some of the things you do at CYA? A typical day?
A typical day includes lots of work on the library catalog and generally on the library information systems. I need to check that they work correctly and that they are accessible and to keep their content up to date. Also, a great part of the day is devoted to helping students with their research. The rest of the day, I search for useful information resources that we could add to our collection. The daily schedule changes of course during the exams’ period and at the beginning and the end of the semester.
The last years, I have also started a challenging project which is to organize CYA’s historical archive both physically and electronically. It is a project that needs time, concentration and devotion but the outcome is so satisfying that it’s worth every single effort.
What is the biggest challenge of your job?
To make information easily retrievable and accessible. Our students study at CYA for one or two semesters, so they don’t have a lot of time to discover the collection and the library resources fully. I do my best to organize everything in such a way so that when they need something, they can find it easily. This may sound easy to do, but nowadays, that we have to manage both print and electronic collections, it is a little bit complicated.
What is the most satisfying thing about your job?
Assisting students with their research and seeing how content they are with the result of their work. Also, it’s nice when both students and faculty praise the quality of our collection.
CYA’s small, specialized collection packed with must-have materials
How has your role changed over the years? How has new technology changed things?
Librarians have seen a lot of change over the years in every aspect of their job. From the transition to integrated library systems to the way that information is delivered to users. The library space is also changing. I was recently reading an article that was explaining that now, in the age of online reference material, academic libraries withdraw print collections to make room for more study space, tutoring centers, and maker spaces.
What other libraries can CYA students access in Athens?
One of the most important libraries in Athens that CYA students can access is the Blegen Library of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, a research library on prehistoric and classical archaeology of the Mediterranean region, classical languages, history, and culture. Also, they can visit the Gennadius Library with a significant collection on Greek history, literature and art form antiquity until modern times. And of course The National Library of Greece but we have to wait until it opens again because it is currently relocating from the old historic building to a new, modern, equipped with the latest technology.
Georgia runs a hand embroidery workshop for CYA students during the semester
Have you learned anything from CYA students?
I continuously learn from CYA students. I learn, or at least I try to learn, how young people of their age think and what their habits are. We always believe that we understand younger generations when in fact, we don’t. We have to talk to them, listen to them and understand them to offer them something.
Do you have a favorite Greek author/Greek book that you can recommend?
It is very tough to decide because very few Greek books have been translated into English. Out of those that have been translated the last decade, I would recommend Alexandros Papadiamantis’ “The Murderess”, translated by Peter Levi (New York Review Books, 2010) and the poems in “Austerity Measures: the new Greek Poetry”, edited by Karen Van Dick (Penguin, 2016).
Can I share a verse instead? It is from one of my favorite poems, The Sovereign Sun by Odysseus Elytis (trl. by Kimon Friar). Where the Sun says about Greece:
O come you shores and come you seas
vineyards and golden olive trees
out of my noonday’s interim
come listen to my bulletin
“No matter what lands I roam and love
This is the land I’m enamored of.”