Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Filipinas Heritage Library Re-Opens at the Ayala Museum: Now More Accessible, More in Tune with the Times

Over 2,000 rare books digitized, made available in Flipbook form
It's really just a short walk from its old location in Nielsen Tower near the old stock exchange building along Ayala Avenue but I can only imagine the herculean task undertaken by the Filipinas Heritage Library staff to move to the Ayala Museum near Greenbelt 5 along Makati Avenue.  

In a lively chitchat with senior director for arts and culture of Ayala Foundation, Mariles Gustilo, and museum manager, Suzanne Yupangco, we learned it took all of five months to complete the move and at the same time, make the transition to the digital world.  Well, when you have over 10,000 books on Philippine history, culture, art, literature and social sciences; more than two thousand rare books from as early as 1608; over 35,000 photographs depicting Philippine life, culture and history dating back to the 15th century; and over 5,000 digitized Filipino songs from the 1900s, you take special care of your priceless valuables.
Light and airy -- a far cry from the basement of Nielsen Tower
While the physical distance seems to be miniscule, the move is especially auspicious as it marks a crossover to the mainstream, so to speak.  Whereas the old location was tucked in the basement of the old airport control tower across the Manila Peninsula (where your typical mall-goer may not want the hassle of crossing over Ayala just to browse), the new location is right smack at the heart of commercial action.  You can say that going to the library/museum can be a viable alternative to malling (I'm really biased as I love physical books, I am fascinated by history, and I can spend the better part of a day inside a museum) and more accessible to a generation reared on iPhones, Androids, Kindles, iPads and Macbooks.
Over 5,000 Filipino songs from the 1900s available at the listening station
I must say I'm blown away by FHL's digital endeavor, the Filipiniana Online project, which aims to digitize the library's entire collection of rare books -- over 2,000 of them.  It would be a blast to sift through these in Flipbook form over the net (caveat: only the sample pages are viewable online; you still have to come over to peruse the whole book).  Next to books, I love music.  I would certainly drop by FHL one of these days to personally hear the first recording of "Lupang Hinirang" by Jose Mossesgeld Santiago, among other audio rarities originally on vinyl and digitized for the Himig Collection.  

As a photographer, I would probably wear out my membership card in sifting through the over 35,000 images in the Retrato Collection, some dating back from the 15th century.  I may have gotten a complimentary membership but honestly, I think the annual membership is well worth the P1,000 investment specially considering that it also gives one access to the museum plus one other perk:  being able to bring a friend or family member to the library for free.  Well, considering the mental/cultural stimulation you'll get, the price of admission, like the library's collection, is really priceless.

Information details: New address:  6F Ayala Museum, Makati Avenue cor. De La Rosa Street, Greenbelt Park; Landline: (632) 7577117 locals 21 to 36, Email: asklibrarian@filipinaslibrary.org.ph; Website: www.filipinaslibrary.org.ph

Library hours: Tuesdays - Fridays, 9AM - 6PM • Saturdays, 10AM - 7PM • Research fees: Annual membership - P1,000; Per visit - P50 (student), P100 (professionals); Other fees:  Photocopying: P2 (letter), P2.25 (legal); Printing: B&W, P5 (letter), P10.00 (legal); Scanning: Contemporary, P50 (legal), P100 (letter), P300 (A4); Rare P100 (letter), P150 (legal), P350 (A4); Retrato Photo Order (VAT inclusive): Per Photo - P200, Scanning - P100, CD storage - P20; Himig Music Reproduction - P30/song, CD storage - P20; Internet access PC - P25/hour; Microfiche reading - P25; Use of electricity - P25; Wi-fi for non-members - P25

Attribution:  all photos courtesy of Filipinas Heritage Library



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