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Society

Greece’s first public library reopens its Reading Room on Zakynthos island

The historical library of Zakynthos in the Ionian Islands, the oldest library in Greece, has recently reopened to the public with a repaired 200 sqm Reading Room providing access to rare editions, ANA reports.

The library was established in 1628 when the island was under Venetian occupation and its governor (Thomas Flaginis) donated to the city 200 volumes. It was formally inaugurated in 1803 and became an independent public service entity under historiographer Panagiotis Chiotis, who enriched its holdings through donations that included archaeological objects, a numismatics collection, and a gallery of art.

It is housed in a neoclassical building in the Zakynthos proper central square.

Now containing almost 70,000 volumes, of which 50,000 are rare editions, it has had funding difficulties and has a staff of two, neither of whom is an archivist. The library is independent but overseen by the Ministry of Culture, whose projects were affected by the austerity period in Greece (2010-2019) and other priorities. It is also in dire need of a conservationist for its books.

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- -: Wikimedia Commons License: CC-BY-SA Copyright: Jonnynut

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