Heidi Trautmann

308 - History of Cyprus Turkish Libraries

Prepared by : Rukiye KAYMAK

Translator : Aynur KAZIN (edited by Leonie Brittain)

collated by Heidi Trautmann


The history of libraries in Cyprus can be divided into 6 different periods:


From 58BC to the pre- Ottoman Period  1571

It is known that the Romans established a library in 58BC in Soli, one of the ten city kingdoms of Cyprus.

 Although libraries had been by Greek and Latin (Roman Catholic) monasteries in the period preceding the capture of Istanbul by the Ottomans, by the year 1571, there was little remaining from the Venetian libraries in Cyprus and the hand-written documents and books belonging to the Greeks which had benperiods in history.


Ottoman Empire Rule 1571-1878

During Ottoman rule, from 1571 until 1829, libraries were established in mosques, lodges and madrasahs.

In 1829 Sultan Mahmut II ordered by edict a state library (Kütüphane-i Amire) to be established. The Sultan Mahmut Library in Nicosia, known today by the same name, was built by the Cyprus Governor Ali Ruhi Efendi out of stone in 1829.This library was an independent structure with its own security guard, warden, orderly, and librarian.

By 1878, the Sultan Mahmut Library was the first Turkish library with more than 1,600 handwritten and printed books.


The British Period 1878-1960

At the beginning of the British colonial period, it became important to establish libraries in schools under the auspices of the Ministry of Education and official institutions. However, the Greek and Turkish Libraries from the Ottoman period were left intact.

During this period mixed libraries (libraries with books in both Turkish and Greek) were established. British Club Libraries (1884) were established by the British administrators, and amongst the libraries established at the time were the Islamic Library,  established by Hamidiye Industry School by Dr. Hafız Cemal in 1905, the Cyprus Municipality Libraries established by co-oporation between Greeks and Turks and the British Council Library (1940).

In 1953, as well as the Nicosia Turkish Public Library, the Turkish Cypriots also established Club Libraries.


The Republic of Cyprus 1960 – 1974

The Cyprus Turkish Federation of Institutions decided to establish libraries in order to enrich the cultural life of the Turkish community. Experts from the Turkish Republic Aziz Berker (General Manager of Libraries) and Ismet Parmaksızoglu (Librarian) were invited to our island. After carrying out an inspection, they prepared a report on Cyprus Libraries.  In accordance with the report, in the capital Nicosia, the Central Educational Loan Service was put into service by the Ministry of Education with a book collection formed from donations from the people of Turkey. Later on, the following libaries were established, listed here in chronological order: the Turkish Municipality and Limassol Public Library in 1960, the Ministry of Education Central Library (1961), the National Library (1963), the Bayrak Radio Library (1964), the Cyprus Turkish Information Department Library (1964), the Nicosia Turkish Museum Library (1965), the National Archive (1970) and the Paphos Public Library (1971).


Peace Operation Period 1974-1983

In 1975, immediately after the 1974 peace operation, public libraries began  to be opened with donations of books from Turkey.  These public libaries sprang up in different settlements of North Cyprus and the four main districts. In 1975, the Famagusta Public Library, the Iskele Public Library, the Güzelyurt Public Library, the Akdoğan Public Library and the Kyrenia Public Library were opened.


TRNC Period

There are one National Library and eight public libraries currently in active service, all accountable to the Ministry of Tourism, Environment and Culture – under the management of the Cultural Department.


Public Libraries:

Güzelyurt Public Library

Kyrenia Public Library

Famagusta Public Library

İskele Public Library

Akdoğan Public Library

Değirmenlik Public Library

Mehmetçik Public Library

Yeni Erenköy Public Library


Other Libraries

Reference Libraries:

Women Works Reference Library

Cyprus Folklore Archive Library

Akova Library


University Library:

Eastern Mediterranean University Library

Near East University library

Lefke University Ertuğru Apakan Library

International Cyprus University Library

Girne American University Library

ODTÜ Library

Atatürk Öğretmen Akademisi Library


Other Institute and Establishment Libraries:

Presidential Library

Parliemantary Library

Supreme Court Library

Department of Information Library

Police Head Office Library



Kyrenia Public Library

On 11 March 1975 in Kyrenia, attempts were initiated to establish libraries connected to the Ministry of Education of the time and managed by the Department of Culture. The library began providing a service on 17 April 1975 with 600 books, in the building where the electricity office is now located. During that period, the librarians appointed were Sonay Halil, Türkan Uludağ, Ünal Şençağ, Güzide Cansever and Umure Örs.


In 2000, the library was moved to another two-storey building in the schools area which had been previously used as a Kyrenia Guest House for Teachers, with a professional librarian (Rukiye Kaymak) and two other personnel.

This building then was modernised. The library has a reception, a children’s section, a lending out section, a technical services section and a storage area.

The library has 730 members and approximately 25,600 books. The existing books include 748 counselling books, 6,540 children’s books, 409 philosophy books, 585 books on religion, 2,511 books on social subjects, 615 books on languages, 801 books on the fine arts, 9,073 books of literature and 2,291 books on history/ geography. 1,033 of these books are in the English language.


In February 2009, the “Ziya Rızkı Archive and Exhibition Hall” was opened on the upper floor of the building, and the library thus contains a small cultural centre. To use this exhibition hall, consent must be applied for from the Department of Culture Managership.

The Library currently provides its service on Ecevit Caddesi - Karaca Sokak, with its small exhibition hall, meeting room and the Ziya Rızkı Archive.


The References: Servet Sami Dedeçay, Kıbrısta Kıbrıslı Türklere Ait Kütüphaneler ve Kitabevleri, Nicosia, 1991.


Sultan Mahmud II Library Nicosia
Sultan Mahmud II Library Nicosia

National Library Nicosia
National Library Nicosia

Director of National Library Ms Umure Örs
Director of National Library Ms Umure Örs

National Library - Reception
National Library - Reception

Kyrenia Library
Kyrenia Library

Rukiye Kaymak - Head of Kyrenia Library
Rukiye Kaymak - Head of Kyrenia Library

School children at library
School children at library

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