Wenceslao: The 24/7 city library

I AM critical of many of Mayor Tomas Osmeña’s policies and actions but what he is doing to the Cebu City Public Library is good. In fact, it merited a report from a national media outlet or two. Having a public library equipped with wi-fi connection operate 24 hours a day is unique. For that, a pat on the back.

I used to frequent the library located along Osmeña Blvd. near the Provincial Capitol in the late ‘70s and the early ‘80s and even in the early 90s when I was a student and later a student organizer and even when I was already a reporter covering the Capitol beat. It had gone almost obsolete by then, with a very old look and equally old books. I reckon a Camilo Osias book is now a collector’s item.

The mayor’s decision to improve the services of the city’s public library stemmed from a suggestion posted on his Facebook account by Mitch Roldan, a student. The reality is that students from some schools in the city look for a place where they can study individually or in groups, and more often than not they go inside branches of popular fastfood outlets occupying tables intended for regular customers, the reason why they end up being driven away.

I remember some enterprising people putting up study areas for a fee. That was before the advent of internet cafes and expensive coffeehouses. I did try spending time in one of them along Arlington Pond St. to do some writing but the ambience there was such that I ended up falling asleep. Those places eventually closed down for lack of profitability.

The Cebu City Public Library can therefore be useful this way, meaning as a place for study (and not necessarily for research). With the advances in technology, most research works can already be done online, which is answered by the promised putting up of wi-fi routers there. What students need now is merely a place where they can be left on their own to study their lessons.

I actually mulled going there when I visited Chong Hua on Wednesday and Thursday for laboratory tests and had a free time while waiting for the results. But I thought I didn’t want to go through the uncertainty of being able to be productive there at that time and opted for the familiar surrounding of the nearby coffeehouse instead. But I am not a coffee lover and, frankly, I am stingy.

So I will eventually be going to the city library one of these days (or should we say, nights) especially when the promised 24/7 operation starts. In the meantime, here’s how the mayor described the setup of the library soon (quoted from a post in his Facebook account):

“The additional aircon needed to handle extra people will be running in 2 days. WiFi will be up in a week. Outlets to charge your computers will also be installed in the floors. A printer and copier will be available. Coffee is already for sale. A small store selling snacks outside will be up as well.

“In the long term, other rooms throughout the building will be re-purposed to give students doing group work a place to talk. The Sinulog Hall upstairs will also be renovated to give the library more reading space.”

In his usual ebullient way, the mayor boasted, “We are paying attention.” Well, I must concede they are—at least on this one.
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