“Help Save Our National Library”

“Help save our National Library…”

By Apolinario Villalobos

The call to save the National Library of the Philippines (NLP)…our Library, came from Atty. Antonio Santos, the Director of the National Library of the Philippines. He voiced this out during our meeting (November 5, 2014), regarding matters on solicitation and donations, with his Asst. Director, Ms. Yolly Jacinto, CDD Chief, Ms. Tess Pimentel and CDD Asst. Chief, Ms. Melody Madrid. He added his call for understanding from readers in view of the ongoing retrofitting project. The loud drone from the drilling equipment below the conference room did not deter the progress of our discussion.

Atty. Santos shared long-ranged plans that centered on how the facilities of the library can be made more reader-friendly and abreast with the fast evolution of high technology. He cited in particular the plan to establish an e-library to facilitate researches, and the expansion of the Filipiniana section which shall include a gallery of rare books. He was positive that all those can be done with the support of the different sectors in augmenting whatever budget can be allocated from the national coffer. He, with the untiring support of the Assistant Director, Ms. Jacinto, has been enthusiastically coming out with his progressive ideas ever since he took over the directorship of the institution.

In the meantime, the cooperative and cohesive attitude of the staff who had been willingly sacrificing their weekends ever since the retrofitting project began, is very much observable. They have been pitching in their time to pack books and equipment for moving to available safe spaces within the building to give way to the retrofitting of the posts and floor areas. Despite the hectic activities and dust, pertinent sections are still made available to readers and clients with other transactions.

After our meeting, I braved the dust to personally see the extent of the retrofitting project, with the help of Delia Tambong, in-charge of the Library’s utility support group. While making the rounds, we met staff with trolleys full of boxes, while some were stacking them in safe corners. What I saw has made me wonder how the institution could still function as normally as it could, despite their difficult situation. Indeed, they show an admirable feat!

Surveys and studies show that despite the hi-tech phenomenon resulting to the unquestionably convenient access to information via the internet, there is still a popular demand for hard copies of reference materials that are available in libraries and bookstores. Add to that the fact that practical and wise researchers, especially, students would rather spend their time, free-of-charge in libraries than in internet cafes where every single minute ticks the peso sign.

The retrofitting project may take some time until the last whiff of dust has settled, signaling the completion of the gallant effort to make the National Library of the Philippines more sturdy and functional. Despite this, coupled with the limited financial upkeep, the institution, with Atty. Santos at the helm, untiringly pursues its set goals of satisfying the requirements of walk-in readers, and serving as the umbrella of all public libraries throughout the country.

The National Library of the Philippines is an integral part of the country’s history. It is the repository of the Filipino’s intellectual achievements. The edifice houses books some of which were written by our heroes, including those of Jose Rizal, aside from different kinds of documents that stood as mute witnesses to the arduous cultural and political development our country in the face of trying times. These reasons are just a few, that should awaken Filipinos to realize its importance, and its need to survive. Personally, I cannot imagine a country without a National Library.

To know more about the institution, friends are requested to check the following:

Website: http://web.nlp.gov.ph; twitter: @ask.the.nlpmuse@gmail.com;

wordpress: nlpmuse.wordpress.com; tumbler: nlpmuse;

facebook: NationalLibraryofthePhilippines

 

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