Books are a timeless preserver of literature, history, science, philosophy, and culture. However, as books became more abundant, so has the volume destined for landfills instead of a library.

In the Cankaya district of the Turkish capital Ankara, garbage collectors joined forces to rescue discarded books. On their daily rounds, they collected scores of books and turned them into a library, hosted in a former brick factory. As at 2019, the library was reported to house over 25,000 fiction and nonfiction works, sorted into 17 categories.

The workers also turned a garbage truck into a mobile library to distribute books to schools, educational programmes, and even prisons.

The “Garbage Men’s Library” now serves as an incredible free resource for the community. What a valiant effort, and a brilliant idea to preserve history and knowledge!

Statistics show that 320 million books are discarded on average every year. Every day around the world thousands of books pass through every country’s garbage system. The amount of paper used globally on an annual basis has shot up 126% in the last 20 years.

Reusing discarded books reduces landfill usage while providing people with access to them at little or no cost. This unique Turkish library truly shows that “one man’s waste is another man’s treasure”.

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