The oldest public library in Greece, the Public Historical Library of Zakynthos, has been renovated.
The library was established in 1628 by the Venetians who owned the island. Currently, it hosts 50,000 rare editions and 20,000 books of the last decades.
The Zakynthos library and the wealth of books had been abandoned for years, with the books stored on dusty shelves or locked storage rooms.
As representatives explain to the Athens-Macedonian News AgencyPE-MPE, the Public Historical Library of Zakynthos had only two staff members out of the nine allocated, without a single librarian or archivist.
However, as of July 2020, the administration of the Library was taken over by a new Board of Trustees appointed by Minister of Education Niki Kerameus, with the aim to reconstruct and renovate it.
The library returns to book lovers and researchers
With little money from the regular budget, the magnificent neoclassical mansion in the central square of the city turned into what was originally built for.
Not without problems, though, as president of the Ephorate Council Filippos Synetos told AMNA:
“Our biggest problem is the lack of staff and the maintenance of the rare editions of the historical library. We are consulting on how to achieve this with the services of the Ministry of Education.”
“We try to generate interest to private sponsors to support certain functions of the library. We have a group of volunteers from experts and friends. It is the only way we can continue operation until proper hirings are made,” Synetos added.
The library’s history
The Public Historical Library was established in 1628, when Venetian governor Thomas Flagginis donated 200 volumes of books to the Community of Zakynthos.
It was officially founded in 1803 by the Ionian State. In 1882, by decision of the Minister of Education, Konstantinos Lombardos, the library became an independent public service with the historian Panagiotis Chiotis as its first Director.
It was then enriched with books from donations and included an archeological and monetary collection and a gallery.
In 1935 the Public Historical Library and the Municipal Foskoliani Library, which has existed since 1888, were merged into the Public Historical Library of Zakynthos.
Immediately after the earthquakes of 1953 the library was rebuilt with donations and bequests. The Library includes about 70,000 volumes of books, a local archive, CD-ROMs, video cassettes.
It also hosts a collection of dolls with local costumes, a collection of paintings, a collection of photos of the pre-earthquake (1953) Zakynthos and old furniture.
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