As I went into the reading rooms, and through the stacks to look for what I needed, I could not help but stare at the state that place was in. The place was clean as libraries go, but the disrepair, the poorly maintained stacks, and the general atmosphere of the place akin to that of a backwater town that government funding forgot.
As I walked those halls, It did not seem to me that this was the place that held almost everything about the world since the first movable type. What is this place to be for some impressionable youth seeking to fuel himself in the arts and sciences? One could argue that what really matters is what is inside those books and not the place that hold them. But if the place lacks the very books that can take them onto this journey -No, that the one that sends Bastian into Fantasia but you get my drift- then what?
BUT IS NOT THE STATE OF A COUNTRY’S BIBLIOTEQUE A REFLECTION OF WHAT IT IS?
Is this neglect associated with the priorities of every government that came and went? In the middle of my research I composed a text message that I sent to my mentors in the hopes that they may at least help me make sense of the experience.
“Sitting here at the National Library, a week after elections and just before the new come to take office, I wonder what will a new president really do for the Arts? To be specific, what does it matter to my art now that the people seem to have found hope and change in a man who is also of the old order?”
And this was the most disturbing reply
“Anak, ano ba naman ang alam niya sa Sining natin? The Arts have always been the least of any leader’s priorities since I can’t remember. If anything, the Arts to him may be just like tonight’s latest “gossip” that would be replaced with another juicier one by tomorrow. Palibhasa gossip rin lang naman ang alam ng kapatid niyan and I’m afraid they may play the Arts card when it is to their advantage like a badly acted teleserye”
And there I was, sitting on one of the wooden tables at the end of the Filipiniana section telling myself once again, that a place such as this should be the beacon for those wide-eyed youth seeking to be inspired, seeking to understand the world, and be fueled to contribute to the Sciences and most especially the Arts. No matter how disheartening that text message was.
Watch out for my reply and a guest blogger's response in the next few days. I have invited a librarian from the National Library of the Philippines to do so.