National Library of Turkey Secretly Sells 140 Tons of Rare Books

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The Hürriyet Daily News reported earlier this month that the National Library of Turkey - unbeknownst to the Turkish government - sold off over 140 tons of rare and historical books into the secondhand market. Many of the books and periodicals did not have paper or digital records. Booksellers and collectors in Turkey bought the National Library books for between 15 and 50 Turkish liras per kilogram.  ($7.00 - $23.50 at today’s exchange rate per kilogram; just over 2 pounds).

The corruption was detected by the National Library when an historical book with the National Library’s stamp was sold to the Konya Manuscripts Library.

Roughly 102 tons of books were sent to the Library’s waste department in 2007; another 45 tons of similar books were sent at a later date.  The waste department then opened a secret auction for the books, selling them off by the kilogram to booksellers and collectors.

The Daily Hürriyet, who reported the scandal, went hunting for exlibris books from the National Library in the secondhand market in Ankara, where the library is located. The newspaper found several books with the National Library stamp, two from the 19th century and one from the early 20th century, priced between 400 and 1000 Turkish Lira. ($188 - $470)

Culture and Tourism Minister Ömer Çelik said via his Twitter account, “The National Library is the memory of the national culture and is the institution that bridges us with the international culture. It should be protected cautiously. It will be protected determinedly.”  Çelik went on to say, “It seems that the neglect has links to some interests groups outside. We will crack down on these.”
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