Many people have told me that they want to help build public libraries, but often they think it will be enough to donate books. I tell them that book donations—and even new library buildings—are not enough.
Someone has to be there to make sure that the books are taken out of the boxes, organized, and displayed. Otherwise, it is very likely the books will remain in their boxes forever. Someone also has to open the library on a regular basis, make sure the lights are working and the place is clean, AND tell members of the community about the library's resources and services. Otherwise, like many other public libraries that we have now, most of the people around them will not even know that there is a public library in their midst (see the NBDB Readership Survey 2012). In short, a librarian—or at least someone who loves books and is a full-time employee—must be hired if the public library is to achieve its objective.
But how does one go about hiring a librarian, or helping the nearest public library, for that matter? Wouldn't they have to coordinate with the National Library or the local mayor? What if there's no public library and they'd like to convert an existing space? I can't answer all these questions, but thankfully, there is a foundation that can help answer all these questions, and even help address all other areas of concern =)
According to its website, Library Renewal Partnership (LRP) is "a coalition of local and international partners that aims to to empower over 2 million citizens, by building at least 200 community education centres by the year 2020 and help forge an interconnected archipelago of readers and leaders."
As Quintin Pastrana (LRP's founder) states in "Making a difference, one library at a time" (Philippine Star, 9 March 2015), "...the local government provides the physical structure, overhead expenses, and staffing, while partners and donors provide books, learning materials, and educational programs." How? They work with interested mayors to get a memorandum of agreement signed, which assures them that the local government will take care of providing the following: 70-square-meter space (minimum), Internet connection, and library overhead (including electricity and salaries).
If you'd like to set up a public library in your barangay or municipality, there is no need to reinvent the wheel. Please get in touch with LRP.
For more information about LRP, see their website and Pastrana's 2-part "Where have our libraries gone?"