Pimentel wants more funds for public libraries

November 26, 2011 12:59 am 

MANILA, Nov. 25 — The national government should allot more funds for public libraries to cultivate the habit of reading among Filipinos and to help attain its educational and cultural goals, according to Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III.

In remarks before the Philippine Librarians Association on the occasion of the 77th National Book Week, Pimentel lamented the poor state of public libraries, saying that while the number of public libraries has increased since the passage of Republic Act No. 7743 in 1994, the quality of public repositories “still leaves much room for improvement, as compared to the ones in the United States and Europe.”

Pimentel, who topped the Philippine Bar examinations in 1990, bewailed the “dismal” state of municipal libraries. There are 1,509 municipalities all over the country, he said, yet only 507 have their own libraries, or a little less than 33 percent.

“The culprit, of course, is not that there is a lack of appreciation for libraries among the officials of these local government units. It is the funding of the local government unit concerned that is needed to be able to establish a library. Local governments must supply the funds before a library can be established. Without the expressed provision of the local government, any library cannot exist.”

Pimentel observed that many public libraries have “a pathetic lack of books, save for discards from the United States on totally irrelevant topics and multiple copies of the life and speeches of Filipino politicians. These represent tomes that would not stir minds and imaginations, much less foster an interest in books.”

Pimentel, however, noted that there are a few libraries in Metro Manila “which have been so hospitable to research and learning.” These, he said, include the Lopez Memorial Museum and Library in Pasig City; the Rizal Library on the Ateneo campus in Loyola Heights, Quezon City; and the Main Library and the Law Library of the University of the Philippines.

“Public libraries were established to support the educational and cultural goals of the Philippine government. As an educational agency, the National Public Library and the public libraries cater to the information needs of patrons. Through the books, newspapers, magazines, and documents in the libraries, patrons broaden their knowledge on history both national and local, of famous Filipinos, developing in them a sense of national pride and love of country,” the senator said.

Pimentel said public libraries are important because these allow the citizenry to better appreciate not only Philippine life and culture, but also life in other countries.

Public libraries are also vital since they are in the forefront of whatever cultural activity is launched and implemented by local governments, he added.

Pimentel pledged to work hard to increase government funding for public libraries through legislation “to transform public libraries from just repositories of collections, but as active vehicles in the propagation of knowledge towards the enhancement of the educational and cultural development of the Filipino people.” (PNA)

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