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Istanbul library to reflect Erdogan's Kiraathane model

Istanbul's Zeytinburnu Merkezefendi City Library will be a model for Turkish president's national Kiraathane project that will give the public an opportunity to read books, drink tea and discuss issues of common interest. ​

On June 7, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan unveiled his proposal to help ignite the habit of reading in the nation’s youth.

Speaking at a rally in southern Hatay province, Erdogan vowed to set up public Kiraathanes -- culture salon -- in all cities, that would be full of books and treats.

“We’ll build the ‘Nation’s Kiraathanes’… These places will be filled with books and there will be cake, tea and coffee [served there],” he said.

Kiraathanes, literally reading houses, are traditional places in Turkish culture dating back to the Ottoman era where people used to drink tea and coffee while reading books, newspapers and magazines.

Merkezefendi City Library was built in 2016 and covers an area of 778 square meters.

It gives people 24/7 access to nearly 20,000 books.

The library also includes a 68-people capacity conference hall, a 360-degree observation platform which is also being used as meeting point for cultural discussions.

The library offers free tea, coffee and soup as well as internet access for its users.

Zeytinburnu Mayor Murat Aydin told Anadolu Agency that there are 11 libraries in Zeytinburnu and three of them, Merkezefendi and two more libraries in Seyitnizam, reflect the Kiraathane concept.

"The most striking feature of this library is that it is open 24/7. Thus, not only young people, but also adults can also come whenever they want," Aydin said.

"They drink tea, coffee but the most important things is that they have access to information, they can study lessons and search."

He said the Merkezefendi library is different from other libraries "as it offers a platform where people can come together to discuss on the books they read".