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Library volunteers make millions
20,000,000 Turkish lira note found in used, donated book

Daniel Campbell
Northern News Services
Published Friday, November 1, 2013

Who says volunteers don't make any money?

Last week, a couple of volunteers at the Yellowknife Public Library thought they might have hit the jackpot when a strange-looking bill fell out of a book they were moving for a used book sale.

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Mirriam Gallego, left, and Jean Maguire show off the 20 million Turkish lira note, which fell out of a book during a used book sale last week in support of the Yellowknife Public Library. - photo courtesy of Brian Latham

"Looking at all the zeros, I thought it was from Zimbabwe," said Brian Latham, a volunteer with the Friends of the Yellowknife Public Library.

"Turned out to be from Turkey."

The note, a 20 million Turkish lira bill, is dated from 1970 - not a good year for the Turkish currency.

"Somebody had their cellphone and we looked it up. We kinda got the idea it wasn't worth a million bucks," Latham said.

Beginning in 1970, the Turkish lira dropped dramatically in value compared to the U.S. dollar. By 1996, it was ranked as the least-valuable currency by the Guinness Book of World Records.

In 2005, the Turkish government unveiled a "new lira," which was able to remove about six zeros from the old lira when compared to the dollar.

The old lira, no longer used, isn't worth much nowadays. The 20 million lira note the volunteers found is valued at about $10.53.

But Latham said the value of the note didn't disappoint them. His group of about a dozen volunteers worked from Thursday to Sunday last week, selling used and donated books to raise money for the library.

"When you're stacking and moving books it's a little excitement," he said of the find.

The volunteers raised $1,800 during the sale, money that will go toward new books for the library. Latham said the library has book sales twice a year and they're always looking for more volunteers.

"Who knows what you might find?" he asked.

Latham said the 20 million lira note is still available for whoever wants to be Yellowknife's next millionaire.

"First person to show up with $10 dollars and we'll give it to them," he said.

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