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14.12.13

Turkey: Historical Works Sold as Scrap Paper

Over 140 tons of historical texts held by the National Library of Turkey have been sold - by weight - to second hand book sellers.  The purchased works are now appearing in auction houses and second hand book shops, reported the Turkish daily Hurriyet on December 9.
Turkey's Culture and Tourism Minister Ömer Çelik has blamed corruption and has promised action, He posted on Twitter: "Milli Kütüphane’de pek çok eserle ilgili suç teşkil eden uygulamalar tespit ettik" (We have detected many work-related criminal practices at the National Library). "The National Library is the memory of the national culture and is the institution that bridges us with the international culture. It should be carefully protected. It will be protected with determination," Çelik also tweeted.
"The library sold 147 tons of books to a junk company at a price of 7 to 25 cents per kilogram. Most of them were antiquarian titles and serial in Armenian, Greek and Karamanlica (Turkish using Greek alphabet). The reason is that the TNL does not have staff who can read Armenian, Greek, Hebrew, Judeospanish or Assyrian," commented researcher Rifat Bali.
The act of corruption was first detected during a meeting of the library when it was realized that a historical book with the National Library’s stamp was sold to the Konya manuscript department.
Some of the National Library-sealed books found at various booksellers, at a price of 400 to 1000 Turkish liras (196 to 490 American dollars), include an Armenian book on Christian theology written in 1860, another Armenian book describing the Balkans from the 1800s, a singly copy of the Greek magazine "Pontus" of Merzifon (Marsovan), and many others.


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