Thursday, March 21, 2013

Filipinas Heritage Library Turns a New Leaf

Let me indulge a little: I attended my first poetry reading on the grounds of the Filipinas Heritage Library's old Nielsen Tower home. That was 13, 14 years ago, and had no idea that the library was still fairly new. The reading began after dinner, later than I had anticipated, but somewhere I found the courage to step to the mic and read about old women falling in love. It was one of those times when I felt 'adult,' staying out late and talking to all these other artists and poets and writers as if I could belong in their company. At around 10, my uncle picked me up and we walked to the old Greenbelt mall where the driver had parked the car. It was a short walk, but that was one of my favorite moments with him. Only upon reminiscing now do I realize just how many details of that night I still remember.

Since then, I've visited Filipinas Heritage Library a few more times. It's a special library dedicated to books and other materials authored by Filipinos or about the Philippines, with a focus on history and culture. For the past 16 years, it was housed at the Nielsen Tower, but just recently until its very recent move to the Ayala Museum.

The new FHL logo looks like an open book. It features the Ayala Museum facade on the left and the Ayala Foundation colors on the right.

I was lucky to be one of the few invited to the FHL re-opening last March 18. There's a new energy in the air. It's more than a physical change. FHL is keeping up with the times and has taken on a digitization project to place history at one's fingertips.

The inclusion of the Filipinas Heritage Library into the museum is a significant step in the right direction. The move not only helps make the museum a center for culture in Makati, but it's also in keeping with FHL's pursuit of scholarship and access. With new programs and efforts in place, it's evident that that FHL is serious about becoming ‘the contemporary space for the contemporary researcher.’

If you’re new to FHL, head to the Ground Floor of the Ayala Museum to secure a library pass. Admission is P50 for students and P100 for professionals, though serious researchers may want to get an annual membership that includes admission to the museum for P1,000. Leave your bags (especially if they’re larger than 10″ x 7″ or if they contain food and drinks) at the entrance. Don’t worry; FHL will provide you a bag for your valuables and other personal materials. A librarian will then accompany you to the 4/F, where a special elevator will take you straight to the library on the 6/F.

The elevator to the new FHL

The re-launch included a tour of the new premises. The library is cozy; the space was said to be converted from an executive office. I counted about 13 workstations for students and researchers. The library is WiFi-ready and tables come with inconspicuous electric sockets to allow laptops and other electronic devices to be plugged in. There's also a conservation lab where they treat damaged materials.

FHL has over 10,000 books on Philippine culture and history

FHL also houses rare books from as early as 1608, maps, microfiches of rare publications (though you can find the rare books collection on the 3/F). A photograph archive can be accessed at Over 1,000 digitized songs can be heard at FHL also allows researchers access to an online union catalog of Filipiana materials from over 100 library-members nationwide, through

The Atiz book scanner, the only one in the country

The digitization of old books is already underway. The new Atiz book scanner is equipped with two DSLR cameras that can scan a page in seconds and produce high-resolution images. The images are then turned into flipbooks through partnership with Trade Channel Philippines. According to the librarians, a 400-page manuscript can be scanned in two hours, excluding editing.

FHL is making it easy and accessible for us to learn more about our history and culture with just a few clicks. But don't take my word for it. Visit the Filipinas Heritage Library soon, and rediscover our nation’s rich heritage through the extensive Filipiniana collection there.

(Thank you very much to FHL for inviting and welcoming us.)

Filipinas Heritage Library
6/F Ayala Museum, Makati Ave cor Dela Rosa St, Greenbelt Park, Makati City
9:00 AM – 6:00 PM (Tues-Fri)
10:00 AM – 7:00 PM (Sat)
Tel (632) 757-71117 loc. 36
Fax (632) 757-3588


Khursten said...

HEre's hoping that other libraries follow suit, digitizing and caring for their books. *coughnationallibrary*

dementedchris said...

I hope there are efforts as well! I think closed stack libraries like FHL and the National Library can really benefit from digitization.