AnadoluJet Magazine – January 2015

Write :Nedret Cumhur Ersöz Photo : Aydın Ileri Arşivi

Knowledge By Donkey’s Back

It’s 1944. World War II is about to end. Young Mustafa from Ürgüp is back home from military service. His mother marries him off in a rush so that he stays in Ürgüp.

Mustafa Güzelgöz finds a job which partly results from his passion for football. In return for training the local football team, he is assigned as a librarian for a pay of 40 Turkish liras.

How does a chair change someone’s life?

Mustafa Güzelgöz finishes the classification at the library and is waiting for booklovers. There aren’t many visitors. At that time, he goes to an opening in the village. There are chairs reserved for all the high officials only except for Mustafa Bey…

“Veterinarian, health officer or a doctor… They all do some service for the citizens. But what do I do?” thinks Mustafa Güzelgöz and decides to open libraries to replace the common houses in the villages. While he conducts these conversations, he also asks for books by writing letters to all the people from Ürgüp scattered around Turkey.

As the books arrive box by box, he opens the first library in Karain village. He founds the Foundation of Library Protection and Development and goes to Ankara with a demand for support. A really emotional man, when Güzelgöz can’t get what he wants, he can’t help himself and starts crying. His tears have an effect, and he returns to Ürgüp with only one staff.


The library has arrived!

However the librarian is not contented with the library he has founded – he decides to carry books on a donkey to other villages. He loads the book laden chests onto a donkey and gets on his way. In the villages he arrives, he shouts, “The library has arrived and it’s free!”

The folks slowly become familiar with Eşekli Kütüphaneci (“Librarian on A Donkey”). Bringing children’s books for kids, novels for the middle aged and religious books for the elderly, Mustafa’s donkeys, mules and horses repeatedly hit the road with books on their saddles.


Ladies who come for sewing DISCOVER books

One of the six children of the librarian who is passionate for books and knowledge, Murat Güzelgöz talks about his father’s ambition: “The people who came to my father’s library were all men. There were never any women. My father was obsessed with this. He couldn’t find a way to make women read books. For many nights, he thought about this. One morning, he screamed with joy. He found a way. He immediately sat down and wrote a letter to sewing machine manufacturers. They took my father really seriously. Two sewing machines arrived. Announcements were made. Ladies formed a line to be able to use those two sewing machines. And as they were waiting, they started reading books.”

Mustafa Güzelgöz meets international awards!

A 1957 article in “Hayat Mecmuası” (“Life Magazine”) an article tells the story of Eşekli Kütüphaneci, and the business expands. During those years, a competition announcement by the U.S.A. stated that people with innovative ideas from other countries were going to be selected. The State Planning Organization nominates Mustafa Güzelgöz.

Three Americans come to Ürgüp. They stop an old man on the road. They give him a book and he reads. They give a book to a woman and she reads as well. “Amazing work here,” they say.

That year, Turkey was among the countries that got to the finals. As an Italian who made street kids read book is about to receive the award, the president of the commission says, “This Turkish man put in such an effort so that there were no more street kids”, and with that votes for Turkey’s nominee. The first prize goes to the Eşekli Kütüphaneci!


The Inevitable End: Retirement

After this award, a constant flow of books arrives in Ürgüp. When the time comes, all the donkeys, mules and horses are retired. People start to transfer books with vehicles.

But the retirement day comes at last. He has delivered 12 libraries and 85 thousand books when he retires, and among those are many valuable works as well.

The tireless efforts of Mustafa Güzelgöz, who has accomplished many deeds in diverse fields from football to a cooperative system with such energy, continues until he passes away in 2005. We’re looking for new Librarians on A Donkey who can carry books to the farthest corners of Anatolia.