Some months ago my husband and I were approached to give a donation towards the formation of a library for Paroikia. The project would include the restoration of the beautiful neoclassic Dimitracopoulos house in the centre of town and would have state-of-the-art computers for students to look up items of interest and an e-library as well as books in several languages, a collection which would hopefully expand over the years.
We knew straight away that this was a project close to our hearts and one which we would like to help, not only because we have adopted Paros as our home and everyone here has shown us so much kindness and friendship, as well as so much practical help, but also because we know from experience that there are students here who want to progress with advanced studies but for various reasons find it difficult to follow the usual route of travelling to Athens for their reference books. Also we know that there is a limit to the stock that the schools here can afford, especially as everything changes so fast these days.
The library is currently housed in the renovated Folklore Museum building which was finished a few months ago, books have started to be donated and the computers are up and running. The Manager and Librarian should be appointed soon and everything is ready for the official opening later this year.
In the meantime, we were told that Constantinos Stephanopoulos, the President of Greece, would be coming to celebrate the Day of the Virgin Mary (15th August) here in Paros.
Everyone was delighted when (on the day itself) we were told to report to the library at 6.30 in the evening and that some time during the following ninety minutes the President would come and look around the building and talk to the people involved. He arrived very promptly and spent over forty minutes looking around the magnificently restored building and its beautiful courtyard, where it is hoped to have classical music concerts next summer.
This very articulate and charming man made a number of helpful comments about the library as well as examining some of the books which have been catalogued and are now in place on the shelves. He talked to everyone concerned, congratulating the very hard-working Chairman and Committee on their heroic efforts before signing the visitors book and disappearing off into the sunset (literally - as he wanted to see it from the Monastery above Paroikia).
Stephanopoulos later watched the traditional dancing and the spectacular fireworks which are the hallmark of August 15th in Parikia and he certainly seemed to enjoy his time here. He had also attended church in the morning and had led the procession through town, followed by a lunch held in his honour at the Pandrossos Hotel, with about 150 of us present.
We were thrilled that he managed to fit in the visit to the library because it has been such an uphill struggle to get everything done and it is certainly a very considerable asset to both the Greeks and foreigners who live all year in Paros.
We are forming a Friends of the Library Association to ensure the ongoing support of the library for the future. Anyone who is interested should get in contact with Mr. Yannis Ghikas on 02840-21656 or 02840-23782. There is still a lot of work to be done and many more books are needed. Maybe Mr Stephanopoulos will send a couple of books... one never knows...