Turkey: Garbage collectors dig out treasure from trash
Garbage collectors in the cultural and financial center of Ankara are on a mission to sort out books from trash.
Municipality workers have established a library in the capital's Cankaya district with books they collected from the unlikely source of garbage bins.
"We actually helped books that had lost their value after being thrown into the garbage, to regain their value," Sema Keskaya, head of human resources, told Anadolu Agency.
"The initial idea for establishing this library came up after city workers asked how books that were thrown out could be re-utilized," Keskaya said.
Classical music welcomes visitors who enter the library. The bookshelves are spread along a corridor with a reading area, lined with tables and chairs, awaiting book lovers.
In a matter of just eight months, the library has come to boast 5,000 books in 17 categories, ranging from literature to history and politics. Now it is at a stage where it can donate books to schools and other institutions.
Keskaya said the library was first established within the municipality's compound for the use of workers and their families, but after other non-city workers showed an interest, now it is open for everyone.
Aside from books picked out of the garbage, the library gets a wide range of donations from people who use the library.
Serhat Baytemur, a 32-year-old garbage collector, is happy about the project.
"Before, I wished that I had a library in my house. Now we have a library here and it's good. I want to read all the books," he said.
The library lends out books to readers for an initial two-week period, and can extend the loaning period if necessary.
As the library is open from early morning until 5:30 p.m. local time, the workers make use of it during their lunch hour or before starting their shifts.
The project has gathered up "distinct" and "highly valuable" books, said Keskaya. However, not all the books come in good shape, and so the workers take on the extra duty of sorting and checking books for missing pages.
"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," she added.
"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," Keskaya said.
Eray Yilmaz, who serves as librarian, urged people to share books with them.
"Books they share with us will reach the people who need them," he said.