Feature: Abandoned factory transformed into unique library in Turkey – Xinhua

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by Burak Akinci

ANKARA, Dec. 16 (Xinhua) — Old books left in dumpsters have now a new lease on life in a restored brick factory in Turkey’s Ankara, where trash collectors have created a unique library open to all visitors.

The old factory, located in midtown Imrahor valley of the Turkish capital with scenic views, has been brought back to life one and half year ago by the Cankaya district municipality, after a controversial building scheme of the metropolitan municipality has been rejected by a high court, saving a recreational area from the clutches of modernity.

There were more of a dozen brick kilns in this vicinity 60 years ago for raw material supplication, but when modern technology came into play, only two survived and worked temporarily under strict environmental regulations.

The unique library has been created inside the fully transformed factory at the beginning of the year.

Recreational facilities, such as a cafeteria and a barbershop for municipal workers, are also fitted nicely inside the restored building, which used to wait its slow death before it was brought to life again.

A LIBRARY FROM SCRAP BOOKS

“Garbage collectors have garnered these books during their night shifts. We first thought of donating them to schools of the area but then had the idea of assembling our own library from scrap books,” told Xinhua the administrator of the place, Emirali Urtekin.

He explained that at first the books were only for 1,000 workers in the town, but in the weekends, curious families using the popular cycling and walking trail situated in the valley also came and started to borrow books.

“Now our library is open to the public everyone can come and borrow books for free here. We also offer them coffee and tea free,” said Urtekin, adding that the aim of the project is to “transform an unused building and offer it to the service of the local community.”

After that the library has been made famous by fascinated visitors that posted pictures online, people began to make donations to the library, which has now more than 4,000 books.

FROM FICTION TO LITERATURE

The bookkeeper Eray Yilmaz is 20 years old, and is also a municipal staff. He conserves and sorts out books according to their content in this unique space.

“Like in any library, we have different shelf space for different books: fiction, drama, history, travel, thrillers, literature or religion,” he said.

Murat Yilmaz is enjoying a game of solitaire chess with the library’s peaceful and relaxing atmosphere between his work shifts.

“I like very much coming here when I have time,” he said with a smile on his face as he was clearing the chess table after a modest game. “Not many workers in Ankara or Turkey as a matter of fact can enjoy such a place in their spare time,” he added before leaving the library to resume work on a sunny winter day.

According to Eray Yilmaz, who holds a meticulous registry, since its creation seven months ago, more than a hundred workers have borrowed a book or more.

“Educated people do not throw book in the trash, they generally put them in a plastic bag so it’s not affected by weather conditions or other elements, and it’s easier for us to collect them,” he added.

“Now that we have become a bit famous because of press reports, people call us on the phone asking workers to come to collect books or to donate us books,” rejoiced Urtekin.

Their next project is to transform one of the 150 garbage trucks of their vehicle fleet into a mobile library that would tour unprivileged schools to encourage the students there to read, and to discover the world of books in a time where the internet has made our lives better but killed the printed book.

“Children like new things and are very open to novelty projects. If we can prepare them for life we would be more than satisfied,” added Urtekin.



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