History and Importance
The Galle Library, which stands next to the Dutch Reformed Church (or Groote Kerk) on Church Street in the historic Galle Fort, was established in the year 1832 and is likely the oldest public library in Sri Lanka. Several old and special texts may be found within its bookcases. The city of Velsen in the Netherlands is a sister city to Galle, and the Velsen Public Library has shipped many English-language books to the Galle Library.
Restoration and Renovation
The SOS Velsen is a foundation based in Velsen city, and over the years it has been instrumental in the development and renovation of the Galle Library. In 1988, the municipal organization assisted with the much-needed repair of the library’s roof. In 2006, the SOS Velsen ensured that the rooms and bookcases of the library were renovated, and in 2007 they were able to donate LKR 144,000 to be used for special events such as street performances, theatre and lectures, with the intention of enriching not just the lives of the Galle Fort’s inhabitants but of the people living in surrounding areas. A photocopier, two computers and a printer were also brought in with the help of the organization. These projects were all facilitated with the help of the Netherlands Alumni Association of Lanka (NAAL), the members of which participate in local community activities by judging proposed projects and assisting with the flow of funds going through. The board of the Galle Library is also very active in running activities both inside and outside the Fort.