Library Week" in Turkey &
Turkish-American Libraries in the USA
Library Week in Turkey, March 27 - April 3, 2006 And Turkish-American Libraries in the
last week in March is celebrated as "The
Library Week" in Turkey, which this
years falls on March 27 - April 2. A series
of activities have been scheduled by the
Istanbul Governor's office, universities,
research centers and other organizations
and both the President
and the Prime Minister have issued
statements emphasizing the importance
of libraries as the driving force behind
progress and development. There was a
ceremony at the National Library in Ankara
where Ali Fuat Kartal, the president of
Turkish Libraries Association and Attila
Koc, the Minister of Tourism and Culture
spoke. However, only a handful of newspapers
so far have published articles on these
activities or the importance of the Libraries
(Hurriyet, Aksam, Milliyet and others.)
There were no posters proclaiming the
library week and urging people to read,
a practice common with every celebration
in Turkey, even for opening of underpasses
According to an article in one of the Istanbul newspapers, there
are 1,430 public libraries accross Turkey
(1) . The number of private libraries
is estimated to be around 100. According
to the same article, 50 libraries are
closed due to lack of staff or renovations.
Milliyet, in an article published on Jan
5, 2006, "Libraries are Hunting Flies",
states that there are 62 mobile libraries
in Turkey which serves the poor areas
around the big cities. The number of libraries
per 100,000 is only 2 (2).
The National Library in Ankara, founded in 1948, serves as the
depositary of all books, magazines published
in Turkey and also as a research library.
However, Dogan Hizlan in his Hurriyet
column on March 29 states that the library
is in need of trained staff with proper
degree in library studies, that only 18
of the 200 personnel working at the library
are professionals and the number of staff
required is over 300. One of the most
precious books in the National library
is a bible written on gazelle skin in
Greek, obtained during the capture of
Istanbul in 1453. However, this and many
other books can only be seen by researchers
and not the public. An interesting story
was told by Sakir Suter in his Aksam column
stating that a 17 year old student was
not allowed in the library due to age
limit of 18. Evidently foreigners need
to obtain permission to use the library.
Beyazit State Library is the oldest and the largest library in
Istanbul, founded in 1884 as the "Kutuphane-i Umumi-i Osmani".
It is open to everyone, however books
are not allowed to be checked out and
it is usually difficult to obtain back
issues of some newspapers.
One of the librarians stated that
the total number of books in 2005 was
close to six hundred thousand. Library
Mosque Complex in Uskudar.
One of the busiest libraries in Istanbul is located in the Semsi
Pasa Mosque complex in Uskudar, built by the great architect Sinan. A number
of periodicals and daily newspapers are
available in addition to a large collection
of books. When a suggestion was made for
a book that the library could purchase,
It was satted that this was not the practice,
which is common in the US, and that not
too many books are purchased each year.
The renewal fee for the library card was
only 200 Yeni Kurus, the reason for probably
not having a budget to purchase new books.
The librarian also stated that many individuals donate books.
Library at the Ataturk Mosaleum
Library at the Ataturk Mosaleum re-opened last year which houses
close to 4,000 books that Ataturk owned
and read, even at battlefields. Fatih
Sultan Mehmet and Yavuz Sultan Selim
are known to have large collection
of books also.
Atac library in Osmanbey, Istanbul, located
in the former offices of 79 year old Rafet
Atac who has donated close to 20,000 books
that he has collected over the years,
is one of the largest private libraries
in Turkey. The library is open to anyone
who wants to read books, but according
the librarian, very few people take time
to visit the library, which is close to
a metro station and easily accessible.
Bergama Public Libraries by Rasime Seyhoglu
A 71 year lady has started establishing public libraries in Bergama
with the slogan "A Library for every village." The first library
was opened in Hacihamzalar Village in
19 October 2001 with 3,600 books, and
the second one in Karaveliler village
in 2002 with 4,000 books. Now the total
number of libraries has reached 7 with
more in the planning stages.
University Libraries - All universities (last count 76 with 15
more new ones) have libraries, some with over 750,000 books and periodicals. Most
collectors donate their books to one of the universities, such as Prof. Dtr.
Halil Inalcik who donated over 7,500 books to Bilkent University where he established
the History Department.
Turkish Libraries in the United States
One of the best attributes of the United States is the availability
of libraries in every city, town and village. Libraries not only make books,
newspapers, periodicals available to its readers but also provide forums for meetings and
exhibitions. An exhibition of paintings, books, magazines and art
work on Turkey was exhibited at the North
Brunswick Library in NJ in 1993 during
Turkish Republic's 70th Anniversary
Most Turkish-American Cultural centers and associations have collection
of books, but as of this date there is
not library in the United States. As part
of the Turkish Republic's 50th anniversary
celebrations, a library was established
at the new offices of the Federation of
Turkish American Associations in New York
City in 1973. Many individuals, including
Prof Dr. Reha Oguz Turkkan, Prof. Dr.
Talat Halman and others, donated books
which began to serve the Turkish-American
community who were genuinely interested
in reading. One of the suggestions at
the time was the creation of a "Turkish-American
Library" in New York City, which
never materialized and the books donated
are gathering dust on few shelves in the
offices of the FTAA at the Turkish Center.
This year the FTAA will be celebrating
the 50th anniversay of its founding in 1956 and perhaps the most
meaningful activity could be the establishment of a Turkish-American Library.
This week Kadikoy Anadolu Lisesi opened the doors of "50th
Anniversary Library" with 5,000 books and many periodicals which can be
a model for the FTAA Library. The library
could be a depository for the books of
many Turks in America who return to Turkey
for good, which is a substantial number.
Many Turkish and Turkish-American organizations
active in the US could provide the necessary
assistance in establishing the library.
A New Public Library for Ankara
A recent Cumhuriyet Ankara Supplement published a poll by Prof.
Dr. Talat Halman on 14 suggestions to
improve the life in Ankara. One of the
suggestions was on building a Public Library
in the center of Ankara, similar to the
spectacular 7 story Public Library in
Seattle, Washington. Public and private
libraries are needed all over Turkey where
ordinary citizens can spend time and think
about what can be done to continue the
enlightenment and the reforms started
with Gazi Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.The Istanbul
branch of the Turkish Librarians Association
recently issued a statement that the libraries
should be considered as the foundation
for the conscious of democracy and citizeship
and that the new Library legislation should
be enacted by the Turkish Parliament as
soon as possible.
- Genc Turk, Moris Farhi.
The 1930 - 1960 period in Turkey, told
by a Briton known as ‘’The
- Cobra II, Michael
R. Gordon and General Bernard E. Trainor,
- Death On the Bosphorous, Arlene
- The Man on
Whom Nothing was Lost, Molly Worthen,
- Kurtulus Savasi
Kadinlari, Zeki Sarihan
- A Myth of Error,
Turkey, Europe and Public Opinion, Erich
Kutbu Halil Inalcik, Emine Caykara
- Bir 2023 Ruyasi,
Mehmet Ogutcu, Creative Yayincilik, 2006
The number of public libraries
in Germany 11,332, France 4,008, UK 4,937
and Spain 5,209.The number of Meyhane
(bar) in Turkey is 17,000, Kahvehane (Coffee
house) 250,000 with only 1 Kiraathane
(coffe house with books) established based
on EU norms.
The number of libraries per 100,000
people in Germany 14, France 7, UK 8,
Spain 13, Turkey 2. The number of staff
working in libraries in Germany 8,337,
France 7,088, UK 6,978, Spain 3,794 and
in Turkey 297 (Tercuman).
March 31, 2006