Monday, June 8, 2015

The Repository

Only once before, did I walk within the cavernous halls of the National Library. It might have been for some petty research work, back, when the state university in Santa Mesa was my stepping stone towards enlightenment. The library at the University of Santo Tomas, while much smaller, packs a lot of rare tomes. I have doubts, this edifice in Kalaw Avenue cradles on its shelves the collection the Dominicans of Espana have, giving the impression in college that this central repository of books has always been of little importance, a destination, only curiousers and hardcore researchers would consider a gem in this obscure corner of the city.

In the age of the web, research can be done in the comforts of one's private quarters, in citing passages in Wikipedia, or maybe Facebook, depending on who's narrative to believe. The library, while I knew in the time of my youth as a happy place, is now nothing more but a shell where people escape the noise drowning a discordant metropolis. It is this thought that made me check the Pambansang Aklatan, not to linger and gain knowledge, but to accomplish some mechanical writing work.

It gets tiring when you're doing the same repetitive job at home everyday.

In my head, I believed the library was a place that welcomes anyone who needs a quiet space to gain clarity, much like a secluded park. It doesn't matter if the pilgrim simply visits just to look around, study, or in my case, set up my workstation in some long table at the opposite end of the room. Beyond the iron fence, seamen of different ranks waiting for their papers to be processed, wandered about, leaving little question this Bauhaus-inspired architecture is assaulted by the tide of ambulant vendors peddling their wares. What surprises me was how different my imagination was from reality. The National Library, while unheard of among the pedestrians outside, and seldom visited by students is actually getting a face lift.

The place isn't forgotten at all.

The accommodation was Spartan, but the kind librarians of the general reference section still offered me a place to open my laptop and do some snippets. The sounds of construction work downstairs may have been a source of distraction, but it was the elation of reclaiming some lost ground that made me accomplish what needs to be done before my computer's battery ran out.

When the renovation has been completed, in two years, perhaps, the library may offer more space for guests to access their mobile devices in a place with reliable WiFi and lots of power outlets. It would also be a splendid idea as well, to leave a hall for people to express their art through the medium of their choice. (like painting or interpretative dance) While it would take some time for me to return, since the construction work leaves little space for visitors to get around, it is with much appreciation that my visit allowed me to tinker with imagination, and see what lies ahead. In some near future, when the nation's heritage takes the spotlight with the opening of the Museum of Natural History and the Art Gallery nearby; when the restoration of the Metropolitan Theater in Lawton, as well as the reclaiming of some green areas in the tourist belt make some headway, I hope the Pambansang Aklatan returns to prominence, not just for people who need to do scholarly work; but for those who find the allure of books stimulating in conducting their business pursuits.

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