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First day of 24/7 operations : Smooth

By: Cris Evert Lato-Ruffolo March 10,2018 - 09:51 PM

At 1 a.m. of March 10, the number of people studying at the Cebu City Public Library was around 60 including those who occupied the reading room on the second floor. The most number of students was 160 who came from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m.


Upon entering the Cebu City Public Library (CCPL), a staff asks visitors to fill out the registration record and then leave bulky bags at the bag counter where a vending machine for coffee stands nearby.

Coffee is available at P10 per cup beside the water station that charges only P1 for a glass of water.

Before entering the reading area, multi-colored notes are seen posted on a freedom wall where comments on the library’s round-the-clock operations are written by a grateful public.

Such was the scene that greeted CCPL visitors on the first day of the library’s 24/7 operations which began last March 9.

Except for problems with the air conditioning units on the building’s ground floor, the first day went smoothly.

Based on registration records, more than 650 people visited the library from 8 a.m. on March 9 to 8 a.m. the next day.

Library operations appeared to peak between 8-9 p.m. when staff members counted more than 160 people entering the reading area at the ground floor which has a seating capacity of 150.

According to Marlon Onrejas, a staff member, the crowd congested the reading area which also has the internet and periodical sections for a few minutes.

Excluding the security guard on duty, there were about seven library staff members from 11 p.m. to 3 a.m.

Night shift supervisor Balbino “Ka Bino” Guerrero, who was originally the building administrator under the Cultural and Historical Affairs Office (CHAO), said that to accommodate the growing number of library patrons, a room on the second floor formerly used by the Cebu City Tourism Office was opened.

The space, Guerrero said, could accommodate 25 to 30 people.

A notice on the room’s door announced that the tourism office has been moved to the legislative building at the Cebu City Hall starting March 9.

“We’re calling it as the reading room for now. It can be the space for students who are studying law or medicine because they bring their own books,” said Guerrero.

Guerrero said they made sure that the entire vicinity was well lighted.

The back of the building now has a LED light post to monitor people entering the premises from G. Garcia Street located behind the library.

A few minutes past midnight the son of Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña, Miguel, arrived at the library to check on the library situation.

Also present until 1 a.m. was Cebu City Councilor Dave Tumulak, deputy mayor for security and police matters, who was there to ensure that security measures were in place and followed.

On the first day of its 24/7 operations, CCPL registration records showed that library visitors were aged between 18 to 40 years old.

They hailed from different colleges and universities in Cebu City to study or do research work.


Jean Costelo, a second year law student of the University of San Jose Recoletos (USJR) waited for about five to 10 minutes before she could find her “perfect spot” to sit on.

But, she said, she did not mind.

Costelo could have moved to one of the city’s coffee shops and easily gotten a seat there; but that would have meant spending more money for coffee.

“I used to stay here in the library until 5 p.m. or until the in-charge staff announced that they are padlocking the main door. Having the library now open 24/7 is a big help to students,” said Costelo.

Costelo’s classmate, Cherie Moslares, a first-time library visitor, was impressed with the library’s facilities and ambiance.

Moslares said she used to go to a study center which charged P15 per hour and spent between P30 to P50 for a cup of coffee.

“I am a full-time student so that means spending morning to afternoon studying before going to class in the evening,” she said.

A library card is not needed to enter the CCPL. It is only required when a person borrows and takes out books.

To get a library card, permanent residents of Cebu City need to submit a 1×1 color photo.

A guarantor, who is a Cebu City government employee or elected barangay official, needs to sign the library card as co-borrower.

“If the books are not returned, then the guarantor is responsible. Since we have records of the guarantors, we can monitor them because they will not be able to claim their terminal leave benefits without clearance,” said Chief Librarian Rosario “Ruth” Chua.


Moslares and Costelo have no complaints about the library service except for the air conditioning units that need to be fixed to make the atmosphere more conducive for study.

The CCPL has six air conditioners with one unit each for the chief librarian’s office, the children’s corner, and the audio-visual room; while three units are at the reading area.

However, all three units were not functioning which made it hot and humid at the reading area the entire time.

Chua said technicians will continue fixing the air conditioners over the weekend.

“But the library users were still there. They studied and remained disciplined. I was happy to see people coming in beyond 5 p.m.,” said Chua.

Chua stayed at the library until 9 p.m., Friday (March 9) and again reported for work a few hours later the next day at five o’clock dawn.

Chua noted that library visitors were quiet and were busy studying the whole night except for the occasional movement of chairs and the flipping of book pages.

The only noise that could be heard was the sound of the electric fan and the opening of the main door.

A sign outside the door proudly declares “Yes, we’re always open.”


A culture and heritage enthusiast, Guerrero said the attention the public library has been getting has also put the spotlight on the Rizal Memorial Library and Museum, where CCPL is located.

The CCPL traces its roots to 1919 when it was opened as Cebu Branch Library of the National Library of the Philippines. It was then located in the Parian District.

In the 1930s, a move to construct a monument for National Hero, Dr. Jose Rizal, led by then City Councilor Jose Nolasco led to the holding carnivals and fund-raising projects for several years which were able to generate P60,000.

But then Librarian Flavia Muana commented that people would only pass by the monument; but a library would be more meaningful. She urged Nolasco to construct a building that would also house a library.

The building was constructed close to the Fuente Osmeña Circle.

In 1938, the three-story building became the home of CCPL.

The CCPL operated in the last decade with donations from various private organizations. The operational funds, including employees’ salary, were taken care of by the city government.

Organizations such as Zonta Club of Cebu II and Basadours Inc. continue to hold literacy development programs at the library with children from various Cebu City barangays as participants.

In December 2008, the library was in danger of closing down as the city government announced plans to convert it into a museum.

But the Cebu City’s community newspapers and a loose organization called “Friends of the Cebu City Public Library” strongly opposed the proposal.

Ten years later, an engineering student named Mitch Roldan in a Facebook comment last March 5 asked Mayor Osmeña if he would consider opening the library for 24 hours so that students will not have to rely on coffee shops to study.

On March 6, Osmeña announced on FB that the library will operate until midnight as they are improving the facilities. Two days later, the mayor declared that the library will operate 24/7 and thanked Roldan for making it possible.

CCPL’s 24/7 operations is the first of its kind in the country.

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TAGS: 24/7, Cebu City Public Library, day, first, operations

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