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Ortigas Foundation Library finds a new home

AFTER 25 years in Pasig City, the Ortigas Foundation Library is moving from its location in the Ortigas Building to the Greenhills Mall in San Juan City.

“Three years ago, the Ortigas Building was intended for demolition so the Library had to figure out where to go. We outgrew our library since acquisitions and donations increased and we needed more storage. Our conservation lab services also expanded way past its ability to fulfill its services,” Ortigas Foundation Library executive director John Silva told BusinessWorld in an e-mail.

The Ortigas Foundation opened in November 1996 to create a center promoting the study of Philippine history for students and the general public. The library’s extensive collection include Richard Hakluyt’s 1666 translation of Melchisédech Thévenot’s Relations de Divers Voyages Curieux (Relationships From Various Curious Voyages), records the Japanese war crimes and trials, and images and documents from Rafael Ortigas, Jr.’s personal collection. 

Packing and transferring of the library’s collection of over 23,000 books, prints, maps, and photographs to a secure location began early this year. According to Mr. Silva, the collection will remain in storage until the renovations of the new location are finished by the end of April. 

The library will potentially gain more visitors thanks to the foot traffic within the commercial area.

“In our old library I was pleased to see students from the working colleges who would take one jeepney or bus ride to come and use our facilities and do their homework in air conditioned comfort with free wi-fi. We could still be of help to the schools nearby since we specialize wholly in Filipiniana,” Mr. Silva wrote.

“The Library’s holdings collection section will increase by almost 50% to hold new acquisitions and donations for the years ahead,” Mr. Silva wrote of the materials to be added to their collection. “We will have a new but modest area for exhibits. Our rare books, documents of importance, maps and prints will now have a revolving section to be seen by the public for free.”

The library was prioritized digitizing its collection of photographs, and this will be followed by the books and documents.

“We will eventually digitize material except those that are already available in internet sources like the Gutenberg Project or [the] digital resources [that] already offered [it] free in major libraries throughout the world…,” Mr. Silva said.

The Ortigas Foundation Library targets opening in the new location in May. Guests will have to follow safety and health protocols such as having their temperature taken, wearing masks, and observing social distancing. A reservation protocol will be established for future events and visitors.

“When we do open, we will have a vigorous education program on vaccinations since I am of the opinion that it is an essential civic duty,” Mr. Silva wrote.

During visits, a closed library procedure will be followed where the librarian goes into the library stacks to retrieve a title when a researcher asks for it. “The pandemic has moderated previous plans to expand our conference/lecture room… Our reading room has been shaved a bit, sensing [too] that more requests will come on the internet,” Mr. Silva wrote.

“Our citizens do not have, as of yet, a library culture. What little there is, is being eroded by Google and social media. But then again, libraries are not for everybody. A small percentage of people will have an affinity to books, research, and a love for reading. We can slowly grow that percentage by introducing them to the world of books and what it opens up for them,” Mr. Silva wrote,

“Jose Rizal’s love was books and he had a library of 2,000 volumes. Look what he became. We will need more Rizals to uplift our country.”

In the meantime, the library is screening videos, holding talks, and selling books and other items based on its collection on its official Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/Ortigas.Foundation). — Michelle Anne P. Soliman

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