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Inspiring Stories

Fantastic Friday: One Man Library Edition

In honor of International Book Week, I share this cool story about a man who started a one man library in Manila.

Hernando Guanlao loves books.  So much that he wanted to share with others.  So he put his books out on the street outside his home and anyone can come by and “borrow” the books for as long as they want…even permanently.  As many books as they want too.

People in New York do that all the time.  Someone take the books, leaves with them and they’re gone.  So what’s the difference?
Instead, as this story describes:

But in fact, in the 12 years he’s been running his library – or, in his words, his book club – he’s found that his collection has grown rather than diminished, as more and more people donate to the cause.

“It seems to me that the books are speaking to me. That’s why it multiplies like that,” he says with a smile. “The books are telling me they want to be read… they want to be passed around.”

Guanlao started his library in 2000, shortly after the death of his parents. He was looking for something to honour their memory, and that was when he hit upon the idea of promoting the reading habit he’d inherited.

“I saw my old textbooks upstairs and decided to come up with the concept of having the public use them,” he says.

So he put the books – a collection of fewer than 100 – outside the door of his house to see if anyone wanted to borrow them. They did, and they brought the books back with others to add to the collection – and the library was born.

And now, the “library,” without any advertising, houses well over 2000 books, and has a steady stream of visitors.

And for many, the library is a godsend.  As a woman named Celine make clear:

 Filipinos – certainly those who are not particularly wealthy – have limited access to books.

“I haven’t been to any public libraries except the national library in Manila,” she says, explaining that it is quite far away – and it is not possible to borrow any books.

And if that weren’t enough, Guanlao travels to the poorest communities in Manila on a “book bike” to promote reading there as well.

I’ll have to make sure he has some James Baldwin in his collection.

Check the video…

Have a Fantastic Friday everyone!



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