New life given to Greece’s oldest public library in Zakynthos

Zakynthos

The oldest public library in Greece, the Public Historical Library of Zakynthos, gets new life.

The library was established in 1628, when the island was under Venetian occupation.

It was formally inaugurated in 1803 and became an independent public service entity under historiographer Panagiotis Chiotis.

He enriched its holdings through donations that included archaeological objects, a numismatics collection, and a gallery of art.

New life given to Greece's oldest public library

In 1991 the library received the archive of historian Dinos Konomos – a researcher recognized by the Athens Academy – which is being catalogued voluntarily by librarian and historian Georgia Kokla Papadatou.

The library is independent but overseen by the Ministry of Culture.

As of 2019, the administration of the Library was taken over by a new council (including a historian, a university professor, the deputy mayor (a civil engineer), a lawyer and teachers) appointed by Minister of Education Niki Kerameus, with the aim to restore it.

New life given to Greece's oldest public library in Zakynthos 2

“We work night and day, all of the members, to achieve what the law calls sound operation, but there are practical difficulties that we cannot overcome,” Council President Filippos Synetos told AMNA.

The greatest problem, he adds, is “the lack of personnel and the conservation of rare editions of the historical library. We are working with the Ministry of Education to achieve this but it is certain the budget cannot cover this. We are trying to motivate private funders, while we are also forming a group of volunteers of specialists and bibliophiles to support some of the library’s operations.”

Housed in a neoclassical building in the central square, the library currently holds 50,000 rare editions and 20,000 books of the last decades.

*More on GCT: Zakynthos listed among world’s most beautiful places for 2020
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