Libraries are Love
(Note: This is not an ultimate guide to libraries in Manila. Just some personal observations and whatnot.)
Ever since I could remember, working in a library is one of those things I can see myself doing in my old age. It’s still amazing to me, in this money-hungry world, how you can borrow anything for free. Being surrounded by walls of books and reading in solitude, tucked away in the cool quiet of a well-lit corner, is heaven.
So imagine my disappointment when I visited a few libraries in our fair capital and found several crimes against books. Clearly, some people don’t think books are all that. The National Library of the Philippines (Pambansang Aklatan ng Pilipinas) is, for lack of a better term, dirty. Some sections are poorly ventilated and on really hot days, the combined odors of unwashed bodies, canal water, and decaying paper can be suffocating. I can’t imagine anyone wanting to curl up to read in a corner. At least, not in comfort.
The UP Main Library is slightly better, if only for their wider and more varied selection of books. I like how they have whole rooms dedicated to books classified under a particular, erm, classification, like Social Sciences and Philosophy, Filipiniana, etc. What more, the university offers a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Information and Library Science. Eons ago (okay, a few years ago), I had enrolled as an MLIS student and left abruptly before the first semester ends due to medical reasons. I’m quite eager to go back again next year and hope they’ll have me, though I’m not sure about their policy regarding AWOLers.
The Rizal Library has to be the most well-funded among the libraries I’ve mentioned so far. The UP Library has it beat in terms of selection range but you can practically live in the RL; the facilities are cleaner, more well-lit, properly ventilated, and not understaffed. Donations by prominent Filipinos, mostly Ateneo alumni, are showcased in the special collections archives which are a treat to check out if you’re into that sort of thing.
I’ll be waiting for the day when a library that could rival the Cambridge University Library will be built in Manila. If that day comes. Hope it’ll happen in my lifetime.