İzmir's National Library pushes its limits
İZMİR - Anadolu Agency
The İzmir National Library Foundation Chairman Ulvi Puğ (L) says 60,000 new books are brought to the library within the scope of the Legal Deposit Law every year and this is why they have a serious problem of space. AA photoThe İzmir National Library, which is home to more than 1 million books in its archives, has a problem of space. The library management, which has produced practical solutions to protect its historical building from this excessive load, now asks to move to a modern building with thousands of precious works in its archives. It is said that the current building could serve as a “book museum.”
The İzmir National Library Foundation Chairman Ulvi Puğ said the library was founded by İzmir’s locals in 1912 as a nongovernmental organization and it is one of the six libraries that benefits from the Legal Deposit Law No. 6279 law.
“Within the frame of this law, our library has a collection of nearly 1 million books and some 5,000 of these books are manuscripts and lithography. It also has every newspaper collection since the foundation of the Republic, as well as a very rich archive of the original first printing editions of the works of the all of the world’s famous writers,” said Puğ.
He said that some part of a building, which is used by the İzmir Metropolitan Municipality as the City Archive and Museum, was also owned by the museum. “We have some 1 million books there and 60,000 new books are brought to the library within the scope of the Legal Deposit Law every year. This is why we have a serious problem of space,” said Puğ, adding they had short- and long-term solutions to the problem.
“A short-time solution may be the distribution of buildings, owned by private administrations, to the institutions that need them. Since we are a public institution, we had talks with the governor of İzmir.
There is an office building; 65 percent of this building is owned by the İzmir National Library. For example, if some part of this building is allocated to the library, our problem of space can be solved for the next 10-15 years. Otherwise, we have to establish a contemporary library in İzmir. We are not saying this building should be possessed by the library. But we can share this building with the Culture and Tourism Ministry or the metropolitan municipality. Then more people can take advantage of these books, Puğ said.
Waiting for 220 years
The library’s reading room’s capacity is for 50 people and İzmir’s population is 4 million, according to Puğ. “If each local of İzmir wants to benefit from the library for one day, s/he needs to wait for 220 years,” he said, adding that a new contemporary library should have playing areas for children to love books and social life areas to draw young people.
He also noted the new building should also be supported with a boutique hotel with a reasonable price for researchers to stay, and offered that the current library building might become a book museum to display valuable works.
As for the Social Security Institution (SGK) building complex in front of the historic library building, Puğ said if those buildings removed by the government, the library would be more visible. “An opera, symphony orchestra or theater room or a library building can be established there. Behind this area, an artists park can be organized. The statues of important artists such as Victor Hugo and Homeros, who were born and lived in İzmir, can be displayed there. In this way, the office buildings in Kemeraltı may become restaurants open for 24 hours,” Puğ said.
Works from the first printing house
Among the significant works in the neo-classical library building, built by the architect Tahsin Sermet, is Envari’s work “Düsturname-i Enveri,” which is composed of 3,730 verses. The work, which tells the Ottoman history until Fatih Sultan Mehmet, provides more information especially about the beylik of Aydınoğulları than other books.
“Ziya-üt Dehr Cila-ül Asr,” dedicated by Hasan Edip Efendi to Mahmud II, tells the Ottoman history from the Osman Gazi period to the era of Abdülhamid I, and it is one of the important works in the library.
A Greek work featuring the life of Aristotle, printed in 1531 in the Gutenberg Printing House, and Katip Çelebi’s “Cihannüma,” which was written between 1650 and 1655, are also among the valuable works kept in the İzmir National Library.