This week’s installment on Dokuma Park highlights the fairly new Cemil Meriç Library, a public library with an ingenious restoration project that combines the location’s history with books to create something magnificent.
We have lived in Turkey for over nine years now and one of the things we have missed the most in our time here is the library. The smell of dusty, worn books, the story hours, the invitation to grow in wisdom and knowledge and encounter different worlds and places in weathered pages, the quiet place to study. Public libraries are a place like no other, and we are thrilled that the Turkish government seems to be expanding the availability of libraries to citizens here. While Cemil Meriç LIbrary is not exactly the same as our well-loved passport country libraries, it is well done and worth a visit. Dokuma Park’s other facilities more than make up for what the library is missing.
What does it offer?
The Cemil Meriç Library is open seven days a week, 24 hours a day! Yes, it is perpetually open, except for government holidays. Offering almost 200,000 books, it is the largest public library in Antalya. 65,000 of those books are “distinguished” and were given as donations from all over Turkey.
With every subject imaginable, from classic and modern literature to history, religion and cooking, it is a well-stocked library. While the collection is obviously predominantly in Turkish, there are a decent number of books in English, as well as Italian, Spanish, Russian and German, among other languages. A digital card catalog that works in several languages, including English, helps you quickly search for and locate the books you need. We saw a card catalog in the largely empty downstairs reference area, but there are probably others on the first floor.
Plentiful seating options, including tables and desks, are spread throughout the library. There is even a café where you can purchase tea, coffee and light snacks. It is air conditioned in the summer, which makes for a quiet, cool place to read or study.
What is the building’s history?
Dokuma Park was originally an expansive textile factory complex created by the Turkish government post World War 2, It provided much needed jobs, as well as housing and education opportunities for the children of employees. The building which houses the library was the source of energy for the factory and held all of the transformers for the entire complex.
The architects who designed the library carefully restored the space leaving glimpses into its very different past. Original mosaics from its transformer days are still intact. Electricity meters, cables and pipes are on display for those who desire to look. The basement is the best place to go to see these remnants. Glass floor panels allow you to see what was, and it is a unique touch in this former energy plant.
Who was Cemil Meriç?
Cemil Meriç was a well-known 20th century Turkish writer, translator and educator in the social sciences. He is credited with authoring 12 books in Turkish literature. Interestingly enough, his most productive years of writing took place after he lost his eyesight in an accident in the spring of 1954.
- When we were there on a weekday morning, every seat in the library was taken. There are quite a few available in the main book areas, as well as off on the sides. But we recommend getting there early or going late.
- Books cannot be checked out, but you can stay in the library all night long to finish that book if you want!
- Be sure to look for cats among the collections. We saw a kitten on the first floor and interrupted an indignant cat in the basement reference section sleeping on a chair.
- It is quiet in the library and it seems to be a place for university students to go study for their state exams. It is not exactly kid friendly, though they might enjoy seeing the building or the cats. What kid doesn’t find a cat in the library funny?
- Though the first floor was jam-packed, the basement was nearly empty. It did feel a little eerie down there because the lights were off on one side, If you took a friend to study with you it might not be so bad.
- Bathrooms were clean and well stocked with toilet paper and paper towels.
Dokuma Park is easy to find by personal car between Erasta Mall and Özdilek Mall. There is a large parking lot on the west side that gives you easy entrance to the park. Enter on the west side and go to the left to find the library.
If you want to take public transportation, the Fatih-Expo or Havalamanı tram goes right by the east side of the park. Get off at the Dokuma stop and follow the signs toward the Cemil Meriç Kütüphanesi once you enter the park.
Address: Fabrikalar, Namık Kemal Blv. No:225, 07090
Opening hours: Seven days a week, 24 hours a day (except government holidays)
Entrance fee: Free