WATCH: Book Stop Project brings libraries to communities
MANILA, Philippines – Libraries are often perceived as institutions with an intimidating ambience. Moreover, not all people can access libraries, especially the less fortunate.
WTA Architecture and Design Studio wants to address this through The Book Stop Project, which is part of the company's corporate social responsibility (CSR) plan.
"The main goal is to promote reading – that's the number one goal. But I think it is also to build communities, because we want to build communities around the Book Stop wherever we are," said WTA principal architect William Ti.
The company takes Book Stop to various places. It has been to Ayala Triangle, Intramuros, Quiapo, San Sebastian Church, and Quezon Memorial Circle. Now, it is located at Bonifacio High Street in Bonifacio Global City (BGC), and at Plaza Roma in Intramuros, in front of the Manila Cathedral.
According to Ti, they started the project in April 2016, with 300 books. They now have a total of 2,000 books divided between the two Book Stops in BGC and Manila.
WTA also holds events every weekend, like open mic sessions for artists, lectures by book authors, and painting workshops.
The number of books grew due to donations and the book exchange program that they started. One can donate a book and get one for free.
"The idea here is that you give a book and you get a book. It's a pretty simple book exchange actually. The only difference being that, we've created a place around it," Ti said.
People can donate all kinds of books, from textbooks to fiction.
"You can leave your books which are no longer in need. You can have it exchanged from the shelf. And you can get any book that you would want to have. It's really helpful. Instead of buying a new book, you can have it for free," said book lover Richelle Miranda who stopped by to exchange her books for new ones in BGC.
According to Ti, the Book Stop does not only help in building communities. It also develops honesty among Filipinos.
"It's been a pretty good example of how we can have an honesty system here in Manila," he said as he talked about the famous honesty system in Batanes.
The Book Stop library does not have doors or gates. People can freely enter.
"It's been to public places. We've been in plazas, piazzas, and everyone has access to it. That's the key here. The key here is that – I think one of the frustrating things about libraries in general is that if you go to a library, of course you have the gate, you have to enter the door, there's security check, there's registration, then information," said Ti.
According to him, people like informal settlers are disadvantaged when it comes to formal libraries. That is why they want to bring the library itself to the people.
He said that due to good public reception, they are looking at producing more Book Stop networks in the country.
Building an active citizenry
"I think libraries are a good way of building an active citizenry. We always lament about the citizenry issues and all that. So I think it's a good way to build that," said Ti.
According to him, they are looking forward to partnering with government agencies to not only sustain the project but to help it reach more communities.
"And so we hope that in us providing this library, if we can get more support and if we can get more books, then we can continue this virtuous cycle and have much more healthy communities," he added.
In fact, WTA Architecture and Design Studio is doing a research project on which communities need libraries and what kind of libraries would work for these places.
"We want to engage with the government agencies and see how can we help out. How can we redesign our libraries to make them relevant?" said Ti. – Rappler.com