As a country with a low reading rate, about seven books per year according to official statistics, Turkey struggles to shed its negative image by encouraging reading. After municipalities installed bookshelves at bus stops and in buses, a hospital in central Turkey joined the trend to ease access to books and promote readership. Konya Numune Hospital has a library or rather "mini libraries" where patients can pick from a wide selection of about 4,000 books.
Inpatients at the hospital in the city of Konya can order books from the library and have them delivered to their rooms around the clock.
Hospital Director Süleyman Dönmez said they decided to bring books to the hospital due to requests from patients. "We have libraries on every floor, and so far, we have a regular reading base of 1,241 people, including patients, relatives who accompany them and our staff. The libraries have books ranging from novels to religious books, children's fiction, et cetera," Dönmez said, adding that new books are added regularly. Patients unable to leave their rooms can ask for books at any time of day by telephoning orderlies. "They can even ask for a book late at night," he said.
Fatma Nur Hüyük, a 12-year-old patient, is among the readers. The young girl, who is confined to bed due to her illness, said she makes up for time not spent in school by reading books. "Reading also helps to relieve my pain," she said.
Zübeyde Camcı, a 53-year-old patient, said reading keeps her occupied at the hospital. "My mind is occupied now with books instead of thinking over and over again about my disease. It is like a medication for me," she sayid.