Turkish Garbage Collectors Open a Library from Books Rescued from the Trash

The Library has over 6,000 fiction and nonfiction books including a children's' section.

May 26, 2019

Tags:

Books, Library, Turkey

One man's trash is another man's treasure is absolutely the case in Ankara Turkey where garbage collectors started collecting discarded books and ended up opening a library.

It all started when sanitation worker Durson Ipek found a bag of cast-off books when he was working and then it snowballed from there. Ipek and other garbage men started gathering the books they found on the streets that were destined for landfills and as their collection started to grow, so did word of mouth. Soon, local residents started donating books directly.

The library that originally contained 200 books is located in the Cankaya district of the capital city in a previously vacant brick factory at the sanitation department headquarters. The library was  initially available only to the sanitation employees and their families to use but as the collection grew, so did public interest and the library was opened to the public in December 2017.

"On [the] one hand, there were those who were leaving these books on the streets. On the other hand, others were looking for these books," Çankaya mayor Alper Tasdelen told CNN.  "We started to discuss the idea of creating a library from these books. And when everyone supported it, this project happened."

All the books that are found are sorted and checked for condition, if they pass, they go on the shelves. In fact, everything in the library was also rescued including the bookshelves and the artwork that adorns the walls according to TRT World.

Today, the library has over 6,000 books that range from fiction to nonfiction and there’s a very popular children's section that even has a collection of comic books. An entire section is devoted to scientific research and there are also books available in English and French.

The books are loaned out on a two-week basis which can be extended as needed according to Anadolu Agency, the Turkish state media. The collection has grown so large that the library loans books to schools, educational programs and prisons.

"Village school teachers from all over Turkey are requesting books," Tasdelen told CNN. The city government had to  hire a full-time employee to manage the library.

This library that was formed from books that people thought of as trash is incredibly popular. It is frequently filled with the children of the city's municipal workers and students from nearby schools. There is a lounge set-up for readers and chess boards for the people who visit the library. You can even enjoy a cup of tea in the lounge.

"Before, I wished that I had a library in my house. Now we have a library here," Serhat Baytemur, a 32-year-old garbage collector, told Anadolu Agency. The only regret the men have, is that they didn't start collecting sooner.

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BONNIE RIVA RAS, EDITOR & WRITER
Bonnie Riva Ras has dedicated her life to promoting social justice. She loves to write about empowering women, helping children, educational innovations, and advocating for the environment & sustainability.

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