TTK Library: Dive into history with books from 5 centuries old

The library of the Turkish Historical Association (TTK) has a remarkable collection of ancient books from around the world that shed light on Turkish history.

The TTK Library, whose patronage was exercised by the modern founder of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, today houses 205,875 works. In his time, Atatürk took the initiative to develop the library and bought and donated, for example, the collection of the Hungarian Turkologist Zajti Ferencz.

A look at the books in the TTK Library, Ankara, Turkey, January 18, 2022. (AA)

Founded in 1931, the TTK Library was opened in the Turkish Hearths headquarters in Ankara. As the library’s collection grew with the donations and purchases, it was moved first to the Faculty of Language, History and Geography of Ankara University and then to a new building completed in 1967. The library serves researchers, archaeologists and art historians interested in Turkish history with its large collection.

The TTK library functions as a specialized library and contains rare works of five centuries old in several languages, mainly in Latin, Italian and Ottoman. A book called “Kudüs Tarihi” (“History of Jerusalem”), first made available in 1516, is the library’s oldest printed work, and the map of almost the widest borders of the Ottoman Empire, drawn in 1626 , is among the oldest maps.

The books published by Ibrahim Müteferrika, who brought the printing press to the Ottoman Empire, the measured drawings of his works by the Ottoman architect Sinan, and a manuscript copy by Layla and Majnun are among the library’s rare works.

A drawing in the TTK Library, Ankara, Turkey, Jan 18.  2022. (AA)

A drawing in the TTK Library, Ankara, Turkey, Jan 18.  2022. (AA)

In the library, which also contains translations made by TTK of works from foreign sources on Turkish history in the 1940s, ‘Turks in Iceland’, one such work is first from Icelandic into German and then translated into Turkish and attracting attention.

The rich collection in the library, which serves with a closed shelf system, is stored in a warehouse whose temperature and humidity are constantly measured.

Library manager Neşecan Uysal told Anadolu Agency (AA) that the works in the TTK library were acquired through exchange, donation and purchase of publications and that the library holds collections of many historians and turkologists, including Halil Ethem Eldem, Yusuf Akçura and Esad Fuad Tugay.

An old map in the TTK library, Ankara, Turkey, January 18, 2022. (AA)

A book at the TTK Library, Ankara, Turkey, January 18, 2022. (AA)

Noting that a very large region comes to mind when Turkish history is mentioned, Uysal said that there are maps of the Ottoman lands from the 1600s in their archives and that most of these maps have been digitized.

Uysal also stated that efforts to increase the number of works in the library are continuing and that many publications are in the pipeline in several languages, including Arabic, Russian, Persian and Japanese.

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