May 16 2019

Trash collectors turn educators in Turkey’s capital

Thoughtful sanitation workers in Turkey’s capital have transformed trash into a fast-growing library that has become something of an education hub for the city and beyond.

Going about their rounds two years ago, garbage collectors in the Çankaya district of Ankara found bags and bags of discarded books. They started collecting the books, which would otherwise have ended up in the landfill, and soon decided to open a small library to be used by employers and their families, according to a report from state-run broadcaster TRT World.

Workers checking out books on a break. Credit - Cankaya Belideyesi/Facebook
Workers checking out books on a break. Credit - Cankaya Belideyesi/Facebook

Word spread, and locals began donating books directly to the sanitation department. The collection grew and in December 2017 the workers decided to open to the public.

After launching publicly with about 6,000 books, the library, which is hosted in a former brick factory at the Çankaya sanitation department, now offers more than 25,000 works of fiction and non-fiction in 17 categories, according to Business Insider.

There is a children’s section with comic books and a section of scientific research, as well as books in English and French.

Village school teachers from around Turkey have reached out to the library to request books, according to CNN, while the sanitation workers have converted one of their garbage trucks into a small mobile library to bring books to district schools and libraries.

As the saying goes, "One man's trash is another man's treasure.”