The Public Library of Corfu: The Public Library of Corfu was first established in the mid-18th century, housed in the convent of Saint Justina in the neighborhood of Garitsa. The first 3,500 volumes were a combination of the preexisting library of the convent, along with a donation by the archbishop and theologian Canonical Jacob Francis Canal, shortly after his passing. After various book donations, the monks decided to open the library to the public, which until then hosted upwards of 4,000 volumes!
Surviving through the French occupations of 1797-1799 and 1807-1814, the Public Library (now in Tenedos Monastery) kept flourishing as new donors and volunteers would show up, including donations from prestigious British universities, such as Oxford, Cambridge, and Trinity. After moving from the monastery to the Palace of the British High Commissioner, the library suffered a serious setback when Lord Guilford, one of the largest donors and avid lovers of the Public Library, passed away in 1827, and plenty of manuscripts and books had to be taken away from the library.
After Corfu united with mainland Greece in 1864, the Public Library of Corfu fell under the Ministry of Education, receiving further support via new gratuities and contributions, namely from P. Oikonomou, Sp. Nerantzis, G. Laskaridis, I. Tzoulatis, the collection of Austrian archduke Ludwig Salvator, and donations from Anta Kokkidi and D. Sapsakomenos.
In 1930, the library became the occupant of all furnishing of the Ionian Academy, making it easier to arrange the inner spaces of the building and provide extra room for more books! Sadly, the Second World War and the six-month battle of Corfu against the Italian forces destroyed large, highly-important parts of Corfu Library, even though three employees saved most of its extensive catalog. Then, during the 13th and 14th of September in 1943, the German airforce bombed the area for about 36 hours straight, leaving nothing but a burning Corfu Town.
After being moved and reconstructed multiple times, the Public Library of Corfu was finally housed in the southern part of the English Barracks in the Old Fortress, where it remains to this day! Nowadays, the fully wheelchair-accessible library offers lending books if you are equipped with its member card, along with a computer room and a children’s department, hosting a plethora of extracurricular school activities and fun projects all year long!