Turkish garbage collectors in the country’s capital city of Ankara have opened a public library that is full of books that were originally destined to be put into landfill. The workers began collecting discarded books and opened the new library in the Çankaya district of Ankara. News of the library has spread and now people have begun donating books directly to the library, rather than throwing them away.
As CNN reports, the library was originally created for the use of the employees friends and family but, as it grew in size, the library was officially opened to the public in September of last year. “We started to discuss the idea of creating a library from these books. And when everyone supported it, this project happened,” said Çankaya Mayor Alper Tasdelen, whose local government spearheaded the opening of the library.
The library now has over 6,000 fiction and non-fiction books and includes a children’s section, an area dedicated to scientific research books, and a number of English and French language books for those who are bilingual.
The library building itself used to be a brick factory and is located at the sanitation department HQ. The building featured long corridors and an aged brick facade and transformed perfectly into a library.
Books can be withdrawn for two weeks at a time, with an extension available if required. The library’s collection has now become so vast that it loans many of the books to schools, educational programs, and even prisons.
“Village schoolteachers from all over Turkey are requesting books,” Tasdelen said. The library has also created new job opportunities as it requires full time staff to run and support it.
The library has proven to be a huge hit with the community. Children of the employees often enjoy reading there and local school children visit to study. Local cyclists who pedal through the nearby valley often take a break there and enjoy the lounge area and chess boards.
“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 state media.
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“I’ve had a lot of jobs over the years but I became quite unwell about five years ago and had to leave my product design engineering role and course. I was gutted but I knew that recovery would take a while. I’ve always been a bookworm so I started looking for jobs in libraries and other environments to do part-time while I recovered. I love it so much that I hope I can keep working in libraries permanently.”
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