A Garbage Man in Colombia Has Made a Community Library From Discarded Books

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Jose Alberto Gutierrez doesn’t just turn trash into treasure—he transforms it into a free education for neighbors. As The Telegraph reports, the middle-aged garbage collector in Colombia has spent the past two decades collecting discarded books he finds while on the job in Bogota, the country’s capital city. Thousands of titles later, Gutierrez has an enormous library, which he and his family lend out to the community for free.

Gutierrez’s library is called La Fuerza de las Palabras, which is Spanish for "The Strength of Words." The collection fills several rooms in his home—and thanks to donations, it continues to grow. (So much, in fact, that the Gutierrez family can no longer squeeze reading groups for children inside their house.) Today, the family is expanding their public literacy mission—and getting rid of extra books—by delivering titles to Colombia’s poor and rural areas.

Gutierrez grew up poor, but his mother instilled in him a love of reading. Now that the home librarian is older, he wants to share this passion with other low-income kids: "The whole value of what we do lies in helping kids start reading," Gutierrez told Al Jazeera.

Learn more about Gutierrez’s mission (and take a tour of his library) by watching CGTN America’s video below.

[h/t The Telegraph]