Corfu Public Library

The Public Library of Corfu, Ionian: The Public Library of Corfu was established in the 18th century and constitutes the oldest public library in Greece. The first books of this library were donated by the bibliophile Canonical Jacob Francis Xaverio Canal, deputy Archbishop of Corfu, whose will was to leave to the Corfiot community his rich, personal library after his death, in 1758, as well as a great amount of money for the purchase of new books.

The library was first housed in the convent of Santa Guistina in Garitsa neighborhood but was, later, transferred to Tenedos Monastery. It was enriched with new donations and reached the 4,000 volumes. Unfortunately, during the French occupation, more than half of the books were destroyed because they were thought to be dangerous for the French Revolution.

Later on, new donations and purchases increased the number of the books to 7,000 volumes, including some very rare manuscripts and rich collections of Latin Literature. Many other libraries were built, such as the Ionian Parliament Library and the Library of the Supreme Council of Justice, but the Public Library was richer in quality and quantity of books.

In the early 19th century, the Library became part of the Ionian Academy, the first university of modern Greece, and new donations were made. However, in September 1943, German bombs completely destroyed it and all those wonderful, rare collections were lost for ever.

The library was yet reconstructed with new donations and purchases. Today, it is housed in the English Barracks of the Old Fortress of Corfu and functions as a lending library. It counts on 75,000 volumes and there are reading rooms to study the rare volumes that cannot be lent. It often organizes book exhibitions and conferences and has a significant impact onto the local community.

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