Library of Discarded Books.

Thom Peart posts about a nice story out of Turkey:

Turkish garbage collectors in the country’s capital city of Ankara have opened a public library that is full of books that were originally destined to be put into landfill. The workers began collecting discarded books and opened the new library in the Çankaya district of Ankara. News of the library has spread and now people have begun donating books directly to the library, rather than throwing them away.

As CNN reports, the library was originally created for the use of the employees friends and family but, as it grew in size, the library was officially opened to the public in September of last year. “We started to discuss the idea of creating a library from these books. And when everyone supported it, this project happened,” said Çankaya Mayor Alper Tasdelen, whose local government spearheaded the opening of the library.

The library now has over 6,000 fiction and non-fiction books and includes a children’s section, an area dedicated to scientific research books, and a number of English and French language books for those who are bilingual.

Thanks, Ariel!


  1. Athel Cornish-Bowden says

    What an excellent idea!

    I spent many years buying books as if there were no tomorrow, and now i’m wondering what to do with them, as I’m not going to live for ever. Some of the academic ones I’ve been leaving on a table in our building (without making much of a dent in the ones still on my shelves) telling people to take any they want. Some have gone, but not as many as I hoped. I fear that the youth of today isn’t interested in stuff written more than six months ago.

    On beginning your post I feared they were going to be books that nice Mr Erdoğan didn’t approve of, but no.

  2. Jeffry House says

    We are downsizing, and I’ve just thrown out 500 mostly-academic books. A few got picked up when I set them out, but very few. No one cares about the Chinese military under the Ch’ing dynasty, or even “Syndere I sommersol” by Sigurd Hoel! (That one is sexy.) All honour to the Turkish garbage collectors!

  3. I’ve just thrown out 500 mostly-academic books

    It pains my heart to hear that. Don’t they have used book stores where you live?

  4. Stu Clayton says

    The contents of most books are ephemeral, just as the paper they are printed on is mostly bio-degradable. Academic books do not differ from novels in that respect.

    What profits it a man to remember if he cannot forget ?

  5. From G. H. Hardy’s A Mathematician’s Apology:

    I can remember Bertrand Russell telling me of a horrible dream. He was in the top floor of the University Library, about A.D. 2100. A library assistant was going round the shelves carrying an enormous bucket, taking down books, glancing at them, restoring them to the shelves or dumping them into the bucket. At last he came to three large volumes which Russell could recognize as the last surviving copy of Principia Mathematica. He took down one of the volumes, turned over a few pages, seemed puzzled for a moment by the curious symbolism, closed the volume, balanced it in his hand and hesitated…

    (This is Russell’s Principia Mathematica, not Newton’s.)

  6. Then the library assistant remembered Gödel and dumped it in the bucket.

  7. I used to do that hand-balancing business in bookstores, until a friend pointed out that if a book got to that stage, I always bought it. So I quit balancing. Now I do everything I can to get books electronically unless it seems clear that I really need the hard-copy’s portability or ease of refence, or my wife is going to read it (she doesn’t do ebooks).

  8. I have finally won my wife over — she still prefers hard copy, but she has a Kindle and uses it.

  9. This is great! I lived in Istanbul for a while and — as far as I was aware — there were zero public libraries there. Pretty depressing, really.

  10. I wonder who was the last person to read Russell’s Principia Mathematica, cover to cover or near enough as makes no nevermind.

    Some poor grad student, but what’s the last time it would still make any sense? Before WW2, I’d have to think.

  11. Ladies and Gentlemen, Bertrand Russell.

  12. Hey! I’m interested in the Chinese military under the Ch’ing dynasty!

  13. Ladies and Gentlemen, Bertrand Russell.

    Delightful! (And relevant to the “How Many Is a Couple?” thread.)

  14. Athel Cornish-Bowden says

    By chance I’m reading Le mystère Henri Pick by David Foenkinos at this moment, which is based on a rather similar idea. Someone creates a library in Brittany consisting of rejected books, books that have been rejected by every publisher approached. An editor for Grasset happens upon a book by someone called Henri Pick that she found very good. He had died, but she located his widow, who said that he had never been known to write anything, not even shopping lists, and had never been known to read anything. All his working life he spent his time cooking pizzas. However, various points in the book satisfied her that her husband really had written it, probably while waiting in the early morning for the pizza oven to heat up. Anyway the book is published and is a great success. Henri Pick was an admirer of Pushkin (that would please you, Hat), but was not known to have known any Russian. He was, however, a great lover of Russia, and had named a pizza the Stalin Pizza. I haven’t finished the book yet.

  15. OK, how the hell do you pronounce Foenkinos? I thought I’d check the Russian Wikipedia article (since neither the French nor English one gives a clue), and I found the article is called “Фёнкинос, Давид” [Fyonkinos, where “yo” represents œ]… but he’s called “Фонкинос” [Fonkinos] throughout!

  16. Athel Cornish-Bowden says

    OK, how the hell do you pronounce Foenkinos?

    I was hoping you or someone else would know!

  17. Eli Nelson says

    Jewish Family Names and Their Origins: An Etymological Dictionary lists it along with a variant form “Foinkinos” and suggests it may be related to Greek Φοῖνιξ. Other variants are Foinquinos and Foenquinos. I would guess that the French pronunciation ends in /kinos/, but I find it hard to guess how the first syllable would be pronounced. Maybe /fwɛ̃/, or if not that, /fœn/. Seems like the way to go is to try to find audio of someone saying the name…

    Edit: OK, I just listed to a youtube video, and it definitely was not pronounced with /fœn/, but it was hard for me to hear if it had /fo.ɛ̃/ or /fwɛ̃/.

  18. Eli Nelson says

    Here are some Youtube links:,,

    It definitely sounds like /fwɛ̃kinos/ to me in this one:

    But to be sure, it’s probably best to wait for one of the native-French-speaking commenters to explain things.

    (Based on this, it seems to me that the best Russianization would be something like “Фоенкинос” or “Фуенкинос”; I’m not sure what’s up with “Фёнкинос”)

  19. Thanks! Sounds like some say /fo.ɛ̃/, some /fwɛ̃/.

  20. Eli Nelson says

    I find it hard to tell them apart when people speak quickly. My apologies if you’re in the process of doing this already, but could you release my last comment from moderation now that you’ve presumably seen that the links are all innocuous?

  21. Done!

  22. marie-lucie says

    Eli Nelson: David Foenkinos

    Thank you for the audio links!

    To me the “foen” part of the name sounds like it rhymes with Cohen (as pronounced in French), with two syllables (even when said quickly). The en is not a nasal vowel but pronounced as in words like ancienne ‘old, ancient (fem)’. The two o’s are “open” (or “low”), as in (le) fort ‘strong, stronghold’ and (la) bosse ‘bump, swelling’ (on a body part).

    This pronunciation is quite what one expects from most native French speakers unfamiliar with foreign spelling conventions. Personally, I would probably use the higher version of the final o, but that would be the only difference I would make with the YouTube version.

    I agree that “the best Russianization would be something like “Фоенкинос””, except that Russian “e” suggests “ye” (but my Russian is very limited).

  23. True, Фоэнкинос would be better.

  24. marie-lucie says

    For the sequence oe as two syllables, see the French interpretation of Crusoe as “Crusoé”, DeFoe as “de Foé”, canoe as “canoé”, or even Joe as “Joé” (and similar examples).

  25. Richard Hershberger says

    Baltimore has a somewhat similar institution, but giving away rather than lending the books. I mostly run to the donating side, and in fact was in the neighborhood two days ago and so took a box with me. From the receiving side, it is much like a used bookstore, but without any money being involved.

  26. If the name really means Phoenician, then I suppose “oe” in Foenkinos should be read as “ee”.

  27. Marie-Lucie is right, it’s fo- or fyo- and then -en like in Cohen except n is nasal. I’ve just listened to a couple of YouTube videos with him. I’d transcribe it in Russian as Фёэнкинос. We have Фёдор etc. and we have “энто, энсамое” and numerous borrowings with эн

  28. marie-lucie says

    SFR: If the name really means Phoenician, then I suppose “oe” in Foenkinos should be read as “ee”.

    In which language? We are talking about a French-language author and how his name is pronounced in French, no matter what its origin.

    Sashura: Did you listen to non-French videos? Given the French spelling there is no way a French speaker would say “fyo”.

    -en like in Cohen except n is nasal.
    I think you mean that e in -en is nasal, because it assimilates to the following n (which is always nasal, by definition). Possibly in very fast speech, or in a non-French context, because in Standard Modern French vowels do not assimilate to a following nasal consonant. (They did in a MUCH older version of the language).

  29. In which language?

    In Greek – Φοινικικός (le Phénicien)

    One kappa got lost somehow on the way from Greece to France

  30. I trust you’re joking; the odds of such an etymology strike me as pretty low.

  31. Foenquinos : Nom rare originaire apparemment d’Espagne, où il n’est cependant guère fréquent et où l’on rencontre la variante Foenkinos. Aucune idée quant à sa signification.

  32. Foenkinos, Foinkinos (M), perh. Φοῖνιξ , “Phoenician” (Greek), known from 16th Cent., cf. Finik.

    (c) “Jewish Family Names and Their Origins: An Etymological Dictionary” by Heinrich Walter Guggenheimer, ‎Eva H. Guggenheimer – 1992

  33. marie-lucie says

    SFR: French words: le Phénix, le Phénicien.

  34. Foenkinos, Foinkinos (M), perh. Φοῖνιξ , “Phoenician” (Greek), known from 16th Cent., cf. Finik. (c) “Jewish Family Names and Their Origins: An Etymological Dictionary” by Heinrich Walter Guggenheimer, ‎Eva H. Guggenheimer – 1992

    Huh! OK, I withdraw my objection, though not my doubt (I’m glad for the “perh.”).

  35. David Marjanović says

    Surrounded by enough filler text to get it through the spam filter, Φοῖνιξ also means “date palm”.

  36. Marie-Lucie: in French, for example in this video around 40th second

  37. Her voice is so distorted at that point it’s hard to hear the pronunciation, but earlier it sounds like /foen/ to me.

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