Atatürk Library, also known by its full name of ISTANBUL METROPOLITAN MUNICIPALITY ATATURK LIBRARY and TAKSIM ATATURK LIBRARY, public library connected to Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality (IBB) Directorate of Libraries and Museums. The library is situated on the street Mete Caddesi in Taksim, Istanbul. The library building was constructed by the Vehbi Koç Foundation on behalf of the Koç Group and to mark the 50th anniversary of the foundation of the Turkish Republic and was transferred to the Istanbul Municipality in 1976. Enriched by personal donations, the historical significance and diversity of its collection have made it into an important center frequently used by national and international researchers.
Istanbul’s first municipal library was established in 1924 in a building known as Şehremaneti Dairesi. The collection began in 1929 at the Atatürk House Museum in Şişli and moved to Beyazıt Madrasa in 1931. The madrasa was opened to the public as the Municipal Museum and Library in 1939. Due to the collection eventually expanding beyond the limits of its location, in 1981 it was moved to its current site constructed by the Koç Group in 1973– 76 Vehbi Koç received a plaque from IBB in 1996 in appreciation for constructing the library.
Designed by the architect Sedad Hakkı Eldem, the Atatürk Library covers an area of 5,000 square meters, overlooking the Bosporus from Taksim. It is a three-story concrete structure created from hexagonal elements, reflecting Eldem’s desire to synthesize traditional Turkish architecture with modernism. The hexagonal book depository on the bottom floor has the capacity to hold around 600,000 books. Reading and study rooms are situated on the top two floors. There is a large reading hall and periodical room on the highest level beneath hexagonal pyramid-shaped domes in the roof. The exhibition and conference hall are situated in the wings on either side of the entrance. A marble plaque on the front of the library bears the words, “This library building was donated to the people of Istanbul and the Turkish nation by Koç Holding AŞ and associated companies on the 50th anniversary of the Republic.”
Containing the vast majority of Ottoman books published from the printing of the first books on the Müteferrika press through to the alphabet reform, the Atatürk Library has one of the country’s richest collections of Turkish books written in Arabic script. Together with the first Ottoman newspapers, the library collection also contains the only copies of publications such as Enîn-i Mazlûm (The Howl of the Wronged), Bâdiye (Desert) and Varlık (Existence). The rare books foreign language collection includes thousands of manuscripts, including travel books about Istanbul and others containing historic, geographic, demographic and folkloric information. Istanbul’s largest archive of old city maps is also part of the library collection. Work on digitalizing the collection has been ongoing since 1998.
Open 24 hours a day to meet heavy demand, it was chosen as Turkey’s best library in 2007 and 2011.