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Public Library of Corfu

The Public Library of Corfu is the oldest Public Library in Greece. There were libraries in Corfu since at least the end of the 17th century. These existed in the holy-secretariat of the Orthodox Church of Corfu, in the Latin Archdiocese and in monasteries like Virgin Mary in Paleokastritsa, Virgin Mary Platytera, Zoodochos Pygi in Kastelani Mesis (that was donated by Chevalier Marinos Prosperos in 1694), Saint Katherine in Corfu city, Saint Francis, Virgin Mary at Tenedos and Santa Giustina in Garitsa. The bibliophile Canonical Jacob Francis Xaverio Canal, deputy Archbishop of Corfu, donated the first nucleus of the Public Library. He died in 1758 and according to his will, left to the Corfiot Community his rich in quantity and quality library that he kept in the convent of Santa Giustina in Garitsa. In addition he deposited the amount of two hundred golden zecchini at the pawnshop, so that with the interest of these money, to maintain, keep and enrich the books with new publications. For practical reasons the library was moved from Santa Giustina convent to Tenedos monastery. When, during the Democrat French rule, the convents were abolished, the books of many of them were gathered in the Virgin Mary Tenedos monastery, where on 28 July 1798, the Public Library of Corfu was inaugurated by citizen Comeyra. The Library was set under the immediate control and care of the Greek doctor Antonios Maroulis and the young Ioannis Marmaras was appointed librarian. A new name was given: Corfu County Public Library and was enriched with the books of Annunziata and Saint Francis monasteries, reaching this way 4,000 volumes. Unfortunately on 20 November 1798 the librarian I. Marmaras was replaced by a young Jacobin named Gaetano Rusconi from Padova, who had followed the French army to Corfu. He 'cleared' the library from the books that he thought as dangerous for the revolution, by either destroying them or selling them, thus reducing the initial 4,000 registered volumes to 1605. During the period of the Septinsular Republic (1800-1807) the Public Library of Corfu obtained a charter of internal regulation and was enriched with books from donations and purchases, reaching a total of 7,000 volumes. During that time the Seal of the library was arranged, which took the emblem of the Steerless Corfiot Trireme and around the emblem the words: Bibliotheca Publica Corcyrese. At that time a new librarian was appointed the young scholar Andreas Moustoxidis, distinguished in the Letters and Archeology. In May 1808 the Library of Corfu obtained the rich library of Andreas Kalogeras, comprised of 1675 volumes of Latin Literature. The Public Library, already at a high standard, was incorporated to the Ionian Academy, the first University of Modern Greece. The Philhellene Frederic North fifth Earl of Guilford, the creator of the Ionian Academy, enriched the Library even more with 25,000 volumes from his own library, causing donations (Zosimades, Count G. Moncenigo, A. Polyla, M. Pierri, N. Zambeli) and purchases, even donating his personal collection of valuable manuscripts. At that time some other libraries were established, the Library of the Ionian Senate, with books on politics, the Library of the Supreme Council of Justice, with law books, and the Ionian Parliament Library, which obtained a remarkable mineralogical collection, donated by Count Ioannis Kapodistrias, first governor of Greece, a collection that unfortunately was destroyed during the II World War bombardments. Following the relocation of the University, the Public Library of Corfu moved to the new building of the Ionian Academy and continued to be enriched with new books. At that period 30,000 titles were listed, some of them extremely rare. In that building remained even after the cease of the University in 1865, as a 'Public Library' until Tuesday 14 September 1943, when this exceptional library was turned to ashes by the German incendiary bombs. After the war the Library was reconstituted and enriched with new purchases and donations. Today the Public Library of Corfu is housed in the English Barracks in the Old Fortress and works as lending library, but her premises are used as reading room for the study of books and publications that cannot be lent. The Library organizes book exhibitions and conferences; it has about 75,000 volumes. The Public Library of Corfu has taken important actions in the field of book propagation, especially among the youth