February 12, 2018

That Turkish garbage library just got a donation from the EU


Kızılay Street, in Ankara’s Çenkaya district.

Last month, we wrote about a new library in Ankara, Turkey, opened by the city’s garbage collectors with the discarded books they found while on their routes. Originally meant as a private library for the workers, it’s continued to grow. It now houses a collection of 6,000 books, and is open to the public.

Last week, that growth continued when the European Union’s delegation to Turkey donated twenty boxes of books, as Hürriyet Daily News, Turkey’s oldest English-language news daily, reported last weekAmbassador Christian Berger and his wife Marilena made a visit to Ankara’s Çankaya district to deliver the books in person and meet with mayor Alper Taşdelen.

Showing up in person to present the gift, Berger said, “The initiative was very welcomed by our staff and our colleagues. In a very short period of time, we got to get 20 boxes of books which I hope will contribute to your library, but to the general concept of education.” Of his pre-e-reader generation’s disinclination to throwing away old books, he said “We prefer to donate books.” For his part, Berger donated a copy of the Odyssey.

Since opening, the library has continued to thrive and feed the minds of its community. Yoldas Ozer, a cleaning worker, told the state run Andalou news agency that he now can read while taking a rest and drinking his tea. Taşdelen echoes that sentiment: “Some of our municipality workers read Dostoevsky and Gorki during the day and collect the garbage of Çankaya at night.”

The workers aren’t done building their library yet. Looking to the future, Ozer says, “One of the goals of the project is to obtain a mobile library truck by which we can carry books to village schools.”

The superhero sanitation workers of Çankaya: picking up garbage and dropping off books.



Stephanie DeLuca is the director of publicity at Melville House.