Books in National Library storage revealed
There are some 1,355,000 books in the National Library’s system and storages. Readers can reach 700,000 books only, therefore more than half of the books in the library are not registered.Approximately 346,000 of books that had been forgotten for years for 10 years have recently been discovered among the archives of Ankara’s National Library (Milli Kütüphane), upon an initiative from the Culture and Tourism Minister Ömer Çelik.
“When he took the mission, Çelik said that the National Library was the castle of the nation’s culture and the memory of the nation,” a statement from the Culture and Tourism read, adding, “National libraries are not simply libraries but strategic institutes.”
The doors of the storages, which had been locked for long years, were reopened and a rescue process started for the books, the statement continued to read.
There are some 1,355,000 books in the National Library’s system and storages. Readers can reach 700,000 books only, therefore more than half of the books in the library are not registered. Within the scope of this, a project titled “Big Renovation” has been initiated in order to solve problems caused by the poor conditions of the library and efforts to reform the current storages.
The library sections included in the project are made up of four storages and the Atatürk Archive. Two of three commissions, which were formed for the project, are working on the classification of the books and the other on the manuscripts. After the classification process is completed, the books will be catalogued and put in the system.
The Atatürk Archive, which was formed to follow and gather all scientific works on Atatürk in the world and to present them to researchers, has not functioned as it was intended to. Documents belonging to names renowned in Turkey’s political history such as Tarık Buğra, Nurullah Ataç, Reşat Nuri Güntekin, Uğur Mumcu are in a bad state in the archive. Other archived documents also cannot be reached by readers and researchers because of their place and filing system.
With the works, the Atatürk Archive will have a place where readers and researchers will be able to reach easily. The new room for the archive, where Atatürk’s books, photos, medals and etc. will also be displayed, is set to be finished in the first months of 2014.
Private collections rescued
The National Library workers, who examined the storages, have also found abandoned books and manuscripts, which were donated to the library in 1985 but were still kept in boxes in the back parts of the library.
In the other parts, a collection belonging to the Turkish Association, which was founded in 1912 in Istanbul as a cultural center and played a significant role in the period leading up to the establishment of the Republic, was also found. The collection, which is made up of some 40,000 books and hundreds of works written in Ottoman Turkish, was handed over to the National Library in 1976.
Another private collection, which has not been assessed since the day it was donated to the library belongs to politician Mustafa Tevfik Gerçeker, who had been a deputy in the Grand National Assembly since the foundation of the Turkish Republic. The books and documents that were donated to the library by Gerçeker’s grandchildren were left untouched in boxes.
Among the findings in the storages were newspapers and magazines written in Ottoman Turkish as well as 10-volume manuscripts dating back 400-450 years. Personal diaries that shed light on events of 1922 and confidential minutes of the first Assembly were also found in the library storages.
The first examinations show that some of the works were donated by citizens and some were bought by the National Library.
According to the statement, Minster Çelik said, “There were many complaints about the National Library. I felt obliged to take action on the library’s poor condition. Three different storages, with having not been opened for the last eight years and the other two over the last 10 years, were found in the last three months. One storage had 60,000 books, the other had 250,000 books and the last one had 36,000 books. These books will be included in the National Library collection. It proves to us though that we had made the right decision in changing the staff of the National Library. The private collections that had been donated in 1960, 1966 and 1976 were left to their fate in these storages without having had received any attention.