In a library in the western city of Balıkesir, the Vankulu Dictionary, the first book ever printed by the first printing house in the Ottoman Empire, founded by İbrahim Müteferrika, is protected by special security systems in a cosmic room that requires fingerprints to enter.
The book, written by Vankulu Mehmet Efendi, an expert in Islamic law and dictionaries, and printed in 1729 by the printing house, is kept in the Mutasarrıf Ömer Ali Bey Manuscript Library in Balıkesir.
The book is estimated to have been written 800-900 years ago. Only Mutasarrif Ömer Ali Bey Manuscript Library Director Şahin Gergin is allowed to enter the room where the book is kept.
It is impossible to enter the room without gloves and a mask, and the room is protected by special security measures, such as fingerprint identification, a double-locked steel door, sensors, CCTV cameras and a special fire extinguishing system.
Gergin pointed out the importance of the first printed work by the printing house of İbrahim Müteferrika.
"We have both printed and handwritten historical works here. The most important of these printed works is the Vankulu Dictionary. Vankulu Mehmed Efendi translated a famous Arabic dictionary called 'es-Sıhah,' which was written by Cevheri, and created a handwritten manuscript. It was later printed in 1729 by the printing house and considered the first printed Turkish book," he said.
Gergin added that the book, which was printed 288 years ago, is protected with caution.
"We take the necessary measures to protect our works here. In this context, we have a dehumidification system, humidity measurements and climate equipment available. We also have fire-extinguishing systems with argon gas in addition to the main building's fire system in which water is not used. Oxygen is absorbed from the environment, carbon dioxide is given off, and the fire is extinguished," he said.
"The room is protected by a double-locked steel door. In addition, we have motion-sensitive alarm and camera systems. There is 24-hour surveillance of the room. When we need to bring some works into our storage room or take something out, we are not allowed to touch the items with our bare hands, and we have to use a mask and gloves," he said.