You have probably read in recent editions of 'Paros Life' that the Paros Library is now open to the public. When my daughter and I became members last month, we talked to the librarian, Mrs Alegre Eskaloni, to find out more about how residents can take advantage of this very useful new facility.
Before coming to Paros, Alegre worked for two years at the State Music Conservatory Library in Thessaloniki, three years at the Anatolia American Academic Institute and one year at the Naval Academy. She also spent a year reprocessing and recataloging material for five libraries in Greece. She speaks excellent English and answered all of my questions as follows:
What services are available?: Membership of the library is free of charge and includes the lending system, use of computers and the study areas. Four computers are available for Internet access, email and a database for online education. Use of personal CDs or diskettes and downloading personal material and games are not permitted due to the threat of viruses, but items can be printed at a cost of 10 cents per page. Computers must be reserved in the library diary, usually for one hour at a time, although this may be extended on days when the library is not busy.
The library is divided into four sections: the computer area mentioned above, the main Literature Section ('the Apostolos & Jean Polyzoides Room'), the Children's Section and the Reference Library. This last area includes dictionaries, encyclopaedias, etc for reference purposes only and not for loan, however photocopying is available at 5 cents a page.
Items with a light blue stamp indicate that there is some accompanying audio-visual material which can be obtained on request from library staff. We have some CDs and may also create a video/DVD library in the future, but this will depend on financing and other resources. Our priority at present is definitely concentrated on building up the number of books. Available titles are listed in the library's electronic catalogue and books can also be ordered, so please don't hesitate to make suggestions for new purchases. A form is available for this purpose and we can help you to complete it if you don't understand Greek.
What rules apply?: Like all libraries, we ask you to speak quietly, to switch off mobile telephones, not to smoke and not to bring food or drink into the building.
Please also leave large bags on the chairs by the entrance and help us to keep books in order by never replacing them on the shelves once you have taken them out - just leave them on a table nearby for library staff (there are also two volunteer members of staff) to replace.
How do you become a member?: You will need to bring an ID card or passport and one passport-sized colour photo. We will then fill in an application form and give you a copy. You are then entitled to borrow three books for up to two weeks at a time free of charge (overdue books are charged at 15 cents per day). Back issues of magazines and papers are available to borrow for one week.
In what languages are books available?: Obviously most of the books are in Greek, but we also have a number of titles in English, French and German.
Does the library need any second-hand book donations?: We already have enough second-hand donations and are now focused on purchasing new titles as an ongoing activity. So far we have 7,500 books in the library plus another 250 literature titles and 250 children's books already on order. We are waiting for the budget to order an additional 250 titles.
Does the library hold any literary or other events?: We don't have anything planned at the moment, though we hope to be able to organize storytelling sessions for children as well as maybe some talks by writers in the future. We are also thinking of holding a bazaar to give away some of the donated books which are duplicates or damaged. We can't sell these as we're a public institution and therefore not allowed to make a profit.
What are the current goals for the library?: As well as those we've mentioned already, it is important for us to build relationships with other groups and institutions on the island. We plan to be in contact with all Paros publications on a monthly basis to keep them informed of our activities, plus all schools have been invited to visit the library. We are in contact with the AMEAI Centre (for people with special needs/abilities) in Naoussa and other societies and have a good relationship with the Aegean Center for the Fine Arts, many of whose students already use the facilities.
What is the "Friends of the Library Association"?: This association was formed to provide ongoing financial support to the library and guide decisions on budgets, priorities and plans. To join the Association contact Mr Aris Pappas on 22840-23580.
You might want to join the International Women's Organization of Paros (IWOP) library visit on the morning of 10th March (see the What's On column on page 2 for details).
The public library is open Mon, Wed & Fri 10.00-13.00 & 17.00-20.00, Tue & Thu 10.00-15.00. For further information telephone Alegre on 22840-28233.