The Blegen Library of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens was founded in 1888 with a single reading room. An initial addition to the library was dedicated in 1915, and, in 1959, a new wing was added, funded by the Arthur Vining Davis Foundation. A further extension, partially funded by the United States Agency for International Development, was completed in 1991, effectively doubling the space of the library. In 2019, -1 level (formerly the Archives) was remodelled. Shelving and seating space along with a conference room and a lounge were added.
The collection currently has nearly 118,000 volumes including about seven hundred periodical titles (current and defunct), forming a major research library on prehistoric and classical archaeology of the Mediterranean region, and classical languages, history, and culture. About 2000 readers of all nationalities use the library. The library is non-circulating, and all books must be consulted on the premises. See Access and Hours for information about using the Blegen Library.
The library welcomes gifts of books, journals or offprints. Gifts are accepted with the understanding that the library will make all decisions regarding their retention, location, cataloging, or any other consideration relating to their use. A letter from the library will be sent to acknowledge all gifts. Gifts may be added to the collection, donated to another library, or sold with the proceeds to benefit the Blegen Library.
From 1903 through 2019 books in the Blegen Library were classified according to a local Classification system developed in 1903 by the director T. W. Heermance. An analysis of that scheme by former Head Librarian Camill MacKay was published in Cataloging & Classification Quarterly, Vol. 36(2) 2003: Classification of a Classical Studies Library in Greece and the Changing Nature of Classical Scholarshipin the Twentieth Century and it is made available here with the kind permission of the author and the publisher.
Starting July 2019, following a major reclassification project, books are classified according to the Library of Congress Classification system that was first developed in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and is currently one of the most widely used library classification systems in the world. An outline of the Library of Congress classification schedules can be found here