You’ve most likely just tossed your trash and never thought twice about where it goes or what else may be at the dump. Annually, thousands of tons of waste are thrown out and many scientists warn of its environmental consequences. Furthermore, there are times when family photos, jewelry or other valuables, and even pieces of history are discarded. However, as a trash collector in Turkey found, sometimes that discarded junk can be repurposed for a greater use. He began collecting the discarded books he found and helped create a library for his community.
The library is located in Ankara, Turkey and was started by a trash collector named Serhat Baytur. The 32-year-old started gathering discarded books for use by his coworkers and their families. When questioned about his desire to start this program, Baytur said, “Before, I wished that I had a library in my house. Now we have a library here!”
Library Excitement Caught On
The idea was so well loved that the library became open to the public. When the library went public, it was headed by Çankaya’s Mayor, Alper Tasdelen, and a team of government officials. “We started to discuss the idea of creating a library from these books. And when everyone supported it, this project happened,” Tasdelen stated. “On one hand, there were those who were leaving these books on the streets. On the other hand, others were looking for these books,” he continued.
After an overwhelming response of support from the public,several genres can be found at this ingenuitive library. Some examples include literature, non-fiction, a kids’ section and a portion designated for scientific research. Good news for tourists, there is also a section for books, both, in French and English. By 2018, the library had over 6,000 books available to be checked out for 2 weeks at a time.
Extending the Benefits to Students
“Village schoolteachers from all over Turkey are requesting books,” Tasdelen said. This quote speaks volumes about how important reading is for children and how beneficial this community library may be. Subsequently, the library now has a fully functioning staff and has been reported to often be full of students from nearby schools and children of municipality employees.
We know of the importance of reading for development benefits, but it provides so much more. Books can be used to transport the reader into a fantasy, to relive history, and to learn more about their favorite political figures or celebrities. A library is a great resource for many communities. All you need is a membership to your local library and there are countless resources at your fingertips.
However, it’s no secret across our nation, books have been banned in schools due to their content and how uncomfortable it seems to make people. Unfortunately, without those books we lose sight of history and the importance of treating others with kindness and equality. In contrast, repurposing books and creating a neighborhood or community library provides more and more people with the resources they need to learn and grow.
- “Garbage collectors open library with abandoned books.” CNN. Spencer Feingold and Hande Atay Alam. January 15, 2018.