A group of Turkish garbage collectors, tired of seeing discarded books taken to landfill, have created a library with over 6000 books, including a children’s section.
book-loving binmen build library for all
The old saying “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure,” is definitely proving to be the case the case in Ankara, Turkey, where a group of garbage collectors started rescuing discarded books, and rather than the ignominious ending of a landfill burial, the book-loving binmen put them all under one roof in a free library open to all.
the library has been open to the public since December 2017
The story began when sanitation worker Durson Ipek found a bag of cast-off books when he was working and the idea took off 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 Çankaya 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."
The city government has had to hire a full-time employee to manage the library
All books found are sorted and checked for condition; if they pass, they go on the shelves. In fact, everything in the library was also rescued from the trash, including the bookshelves and the artwork that adorns the walls.
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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