Ankara, Turkey: Trash Collectors Salvage Books, Open Library

Trash collectors in Ankara, Turkey, salvaged so many discarded books that they decided to open a library.

After years of tossing away perfectly serviceable books, the sanitation workers asked how these books could be re-utilized. They came up with the idea of the library and then found a location – an abandoned brick factory (below) that was on the municipality premises.


According to Semi Keskaya, head of Human Resources at the municipality, “When we first began, we really had a lot of shelves but not so many books. I actually was a bit nervous as I feared we wouldn’t be able to fill the shelves. I looked at the shelves and told myself, ‘We need at least 3,000 books.’ But then we saw how quickly they were filled and now we can’t even keep up.”

At first, the library was only for the sanitation workers and their families, but as the collection grew, partly from donations made by members of the public, it was opened to everyone.


The library now has over 6000 books, including a children’s section, science books, and books in French and English. It has started to loan books to local schools and prisons, and there is a full-time librarian employed by the local government.


Keskaya says, “Our goal isn’t to find books and keep them for ourselves but rather to make them available to our children and our people. We want these books to reach students and foster reading habits in them.”

Getty Images

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Zhanna says:

    I am grateful for your lecture in Kiev this year. Now I am following and reading you. Thanks


    1. JJ Wilson says:

      Thank you, Zhanna!


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