You may think that I am old fashioned but I think Cevat Sakir Public Library in Bodrum deserves few words. I know, we are living in the information era but it doesn’t mean Bodrum information can only be found on internet.
Cevat Sakir was a famous Turkish writer who had an amazing influence on this city. You may know him as The Fisherman of Halicarnassus. I think it would be a perfect description to say he was the man who changed the destiny of Bodrum. A library couldn’t be named better.
Normally the most people want to learn about touristic attractions. As a result, many of latest publications and internet content focus on these topics. If you are looking for more specific information about Bodrum or don’t want to pay a lot of money on reference books like blue cruise handbooks or tourist guides, spending an hour in the public library would be a good investment.
Another reason to stop by the library is the building itself. It is actually a very well preserved old Bodrum house in a central location. It is on Cumhuriyet Street which is also known as Bars Street.
The library has a humble book collection. The regulars are mainly students and it seems like the books have been chosen by considering their needs. But there is one bookcase which can help us finding a couple of rare books and thesis at the public library in Bodrum that might interest us.
It is the only bookcase in the main hall and contains publications directly related to Bodrum. A good news is many of them are in English!
These books cover wide range of local information from blue cruises and local traditions to Aegean cuisine. These were, and still are, my best sources in preparing this web site. The only problem is that this section are reserved for reading only in the library. You can’t borrow any of them.
However, the other books can be borrowed but you need to be a Turkish citizen to do that. If you are not, you have to use them in the library. What if we need a copy of a book even if it is in the reference section? Fortunately, the librarian I talked to has a solution.
You can take a book out of the library by leaving your passport to the librarian. So you can read it on a nearby beach or get it photocopied in one of the copy shops in Bodrum. When you return the book, you can take your passport back.
Old Bodrumians call east of the castle as Greek neighbourhood while they call the west part as Turkish neighbourhood. These colloquial definitions date back to the beginning of 20th century when a small Greek population settled on the east of Bodrum Bay.
The architecture of these two societies were quite different. Typically Greeks built big stone houses with high ceilings. Bodrumians call these houses as “Rum Evi” which I believe I can translate it as “Greek House”. Turks, on the other hand, were living in smaller brick houses with relatively low ceilings.
If you look around you in the eastern Bodrum, you can easily distinguish the origins of old houses based on these basic differences.
Library is a typical Greek house with its stone walls and high ceiling. It is one of the oldest buildings of Bodrum. As far as we know, it was built before 1914 as a residential.
After declaration of republic in 1923, the building was used as “Halk Evi – Community House” which was one of the most successful projects of the young Turkish republic. These were public education centres targeting increasing literacy rate and teaching new skills to natives so that they can actively contribute in the Turkish economy.
In 1955, after all community houses were shut down (for me it was the biggest mistake in our recent history), this beautiful stone building has become the only public library in Bodrum.