Meet the bin men who built their own library (and it wasn’t rubbish!)

Refuse workers in Turkish capital Ankara rescued 6,000 books from the brink of landfill before starting their own community library

A group of Turkish bin men who saw books being dumped for landfill have taken our #WhyBooksMatter ethos to new heights.

The refuse workers in Ankara started hoarding books for employees and their families to borrow. But their mini-library got so popular they soon had a 6,000-strong book collection – and had to expand their shelves.

So they transformed an empty brick factory near their HQ and filled it up not only with books but also a lounge for readers and a chess board for visitors. The community now flocks to the library after it opened its doors to the public in September.

Ankara bin men library
The library opened its doors to the public in September

“Before, I wished that I had a library in my house. Now we have a library here,” said bin man Serhat Baytemur.

We have opened up The Big Issue to innovative, democratic ideas just like this one. The Big Issue Platform is non-partisan and open to politicians, policy-makers, business, third-sector leaders, readers and vendors. Anybody who has an idea that can be part of the solution – send it to us at

So far, London mayor Sadie Khan has used the Big Platform to launch his ‘No one needs to sleep rough in London’ campaign while Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood called for a ‘no evictions’ policy and vowed to move homelessness up the political agenda in Wales.

Meanwhile, reader John Povey turned to retired builders, suggesting that they could volunteer to rebuild and repair properties while John Adams insisted that university halls of residence could offer accommodation when they are not in use throughout the year.

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