Colombian garbage collector makes library from discarded books

Tuesday 06 June 2017 3 weeks ago 53   Colombia   Print

Colombian garbage collector in his library

Report  Web desk : BOGOTA: Emptying the bins of Colombia capital, Jose Alberto Gutierrez one day found a copy of the classic novel “Anna Karenina,” and kept it. That was 20 years ago — and the garbage man continued to collect Bogota’s discarded books, amassing 25,000 in a free library, swelled by donations. “I realized that people were throwing books away in the rubbish. I started to rescue them,” Gutierrez, a stocky, grey-haired man of 54, told AFP. He never got past primary school as a student, but is now dubbed “The Lord of the Books,” in demand from schools across the country. That first copy of Tolstoy was soon joined by “The Little Prince,” “Sophie World,” “The Iliad” and various novels by Colombian master Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Gutierrez neighbors started coming round to borrow books to help their children with schoolwork. “There was a lack of them in our neighborhood, so we started to help.” Now a whole floor of his house, on a hill in the working class Nueva Gloria district of the capital, is taken up by stacks of books. Along with wife Luz Mery Gutierrez and their three children, Gutierrez opened it as a free library in 2000. Volunteers joined in, word spread, and the garbage man found himself invited to international book fairs in Santiago, Monterrey as well as in the capital. 02