January 24, 2018
Garbage collectors in Turkey have opened a library of abandoned books
by Stephanie DeLuca
A new library recently opened in the Turkish capital of Ankara. It’s the handiwork of city garbage collectors, who have filled it with books salvaged from an unlikely source: the trash.
As Spencer Feingold and Hande Atay Alam write at CNN.com, the collectors got the idea to open the library while finding discarded books along their routes. As the news of their collection made its way through the city, residents began to donate books directly to the cause.
What was once meant to be a private library for sanitation workers and their families has now grown into a 6,000-book collection, with novels, nonfiction, a kids’ section with comic books, an entire section for scientific research, and books in English and French. It’s housed in an old brick factory located at the city’s sanitation department headquarters, with long corridors are perfect for shelving books.
The library opened to the public in September 2017. Alper Tasdelen, the mayor of Ankara’s Çankaya district, whose local government helped to open the library, told Fengold and Alam, “When everyone supported it, this project happened,” a testament to the power of community.
Besides regular patrons, the library has also loaned books out to schools, educational programs, and prisoners. Tasdelen says that the library was needed: “On one hand, there were those who were leaving these books on the streets. On the other hand others were looking for books.” He continues: “Village schoolteachers from all over Turkey are requesting books.”
One person’s garbage is another reader’s treasure.
Stephanie DeLuca is the director of publicity at Melville House.