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Of Budgets, Leadership and the National Library

Below are links to a few articles you may have missed, plus my comments.

Public libraries don't get enough funding. From "Public library gets budget for repair, new books" (Cebu Daily News, 20 February 2008)

For the first time, the Mandaue City Public Library is getting a budget to buy new reading materials and repair the building.

Acting librarian Marrieta Orque expressed relief that the government has allocated a budget for the purchase of new books for the library.
It's good news of course, but it's really sad that the fact that the library was allotted a budget, which is taken for granted elsewhere, is considered newsworthy. If Orque, as the article reports, has been with the library for 20 years, does this mean that the library has been operating without a budget all that time? Probably not... but I wouldn't be surprised, either, if the answer is "yes."

A town in Leyte seems to be in better shape. From "Poor town has modern library" by Joey Gabieta (Philippine Daily Inquirer, 21 January 2008):
This sleepy agricultural town has what other municipalities in the province lack—a modern and fully air-conditioned library.

Credit goes to its young mayor, Bernard Jonathan Remandaban, who said his "bias" for education was the main driver for the construction of a two-story library building on a one-hectare lot that was once a swampy area at the town center.
What's the difference? It's obvious that the town has a leader who thinks libraries are important. I don't really like the fact that no mention is made of the librarian (I certainly hope they hired one), but a new library building is certainly much more welcome news.

And then there's the National Library of the Philippines. From a column by Wilson Lee Flores (Philippine Star, 21 January 2008):
I urge the state to build more public libraries and to rebuild our National Library, instead of more waiting sheds, basketball courts or cock-fighting pits. Why is it that a private-sector bookstore like Fully Booked in The Fort is nicer than our republic’s so-called "National Library," which I believe should be renamed "National Disgrace"!
There is, of course, a simple answer: the private sector has more money than the state. And the state has never really considered libraries a priority. So I wouldn't really count on the government allotting a budget for libraries. My suggestion? Get the private sector involved (e.g., naming rights), but before that can be done, we need leaders!

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