FOR the first time in 98 years, the Dr. Jose Rizal Public Library opened its doors yesterday, and its staff won’t close it again anytime soon.

Established on April 13,1919, the facility started as a local branch of the National Library of the Philippines. For the past nine decades, the library has been operating only on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

But a request from an electrical engineering student changed all this.

Mitch Roldan simply asked Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña on the mayor’s official Facebook page to consider opening the library for 24/7 to give students a good place to study. A week later, the mayor announced that the facility will now be outfitted for 24-hour use. Last March 8 was the last time the library closed its doors.

Roldan, who paid Osmeña a courtesy call last Thursday, was appointed by the mayor as honorary chief librarian.

From last March 9 onwards, the facility will be open to students, bookworms and visitors alike for the whole day. This, too, falls in line with the celebration of the National Public Library Day.

In an interview with SunStar Cebu, City Librarian Rosario Chua said that as early as 2 p.m. yesterday, around 200 visitors have flocked the place.

Compared to their previous operations, she said the library is only full in November, December and February, or during the months when term papers are required. The library has 25,000 books and has a seating capacity of 150. Chua said operating it for 24 hours for the entire week may be difficult to sustain, but she remains positive.

“I’m happy because this will set a good example for other local government units. There is a perception that libraries are now obsolete. It is beyond books and print materials. It is also geared toward education for lifelong learners,” she said.

To ensure the safety of visitors, the City Government has replaced broken lamps with new ones to brighten the outside vicinity. Osmeña said that the City will also hire barangay intelligence network personnel to watch the facility.

The development also earned the support of opposition Councilors Joy Pesquera, Phillip Zafra and Raymond Garcia. They called it a “laudable” policy direction.