Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has opened a huge lavish presidential library – the largest in the country – despite nearly 200 libraries closing during his time in power.
Erdogan, 66, reportedly opened the Turkish Presidential Library in the country’s north-western capital Ankara last week, promising tea and cake to visitors that can make it to the hard to reach location.
The presidential library spans 125,000 square metres and boasts over four million printed materials in 134 languages, according to local media.
However, the majority of Turkish schools do not even have a library while the number of library goers has significantly dropped under Erdogan’s tenure, according to local media.
The number of people who used libraries across 26 provinces, including in major cities like Antalya, Bursa and Mersin, has reportedly decreased by nearly two million people.
Meanwhile, local media said that 188 libraries have been forced to close since 2003.
Only 29,690 of Turkey’s 65,568 schools have libraries, which means that 55 percent of students do not have easy access to one, according to reports.
Local media said that the new presidential library has acquired 800,000 books from the capital’s Adnan Otuken public library, leaving it with just 60,000 left.
President of the Turkish Librarians Association, Ali Fuat Kartal, said: “This number is very small for a city with a large population like Ankara. Students use the Adnan Otuken library to study for their classes.
“The local administrations need to focus on this subject. The [new] library, from a transportation perspective, is not in an ideal location.”
During the inauguration, President Erdogan said: “This library will make Istanbul jealous. However, Istanbul residents should not be sad, we are going to build a similar one in the Rami Barracks [in Istanbul’s district of Eyup].”
He also said that visitors to the new library in the capital will be offered tea or coffee and a slice of cake.
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