Wow, I haven't written on my personal blog for quite a while. Been busy with work, family, and my other blog (on bike commuting). But I have time now, and this thing I want to write about is worth blogging. So here it goes.
Back in 2011, when I first heard about Governor Imee Marcos' plan of converting the Ilocano Heroes Hall into an SM Hypermart, I thought it was a bad idea and was strongly against it. One of the reasons for my opposition was the eventual displacement of the building's tenants, especially the government offices. The Ilocano Heroes Hall used to be the one-stop shop for government agencies. The electric cooperative was there, so was the Department of Tourism, Bureau of Treasury and the Commission on Elections. Another to be kicked out was the Provincial Library. The library was a great concern for me because I had always supported it, and in fact, the 2007-2010 provincial government had already planned to build a legislative building that would house a bigger and better library. Now it had no permanent address.
I later learned that the library transferred to a small corner of the Centennial Arena, far away from its student-clientele in the city center. For a long time, the Provincial Library just stood there, gathering dust.
I thought the library would ultimately die a natural death.
I was wrong.
Earlier today I passed by the Centennial Arena and noticed that the library looked much bigger than the last time I saw it, and was now renamed iHub (short for Information Hub). Curious, I paid my favorite librarian, Mrs. Abad, a visit.
When I entered, I was pleasantly surprised and impressed with what I saw.
And all I could say was, "Wow!"
Governor Imee expanded iHub by converting the entire south basement of the arena into a library. She then installed two hundred computers to complement the existing ones.
Two Hundred. That's a lot of computers.
Last Friday, Governor Imee inaugurated the Sirib Mile along Ablan Ave., stretching from Marcos Stadium and MMSU to INNHS and INCAT. The "mile" of course includes the Centennial Arena and the library. I learned that Governor Imee's master plan is to transform that area into the educational hub of the north.
And it made perfect sense.
Sure, the library lost its visitors from Laoag Central Elementary School, Holy Spirit Academy and Data Center, but it gained the multitude of students from Mariano Marcos State University, Ilocos Norte National High School and Ilocos Norte College of Arts and Trade, which is definitely a bigger base.
For a small fee, the students from these schools can continue their research and study after their classes. I heard Governor Imee plans to "close" that section of Ablan Ave. and convert it into a public plaza, making it exclusive for pedestrians, which is good for the library because then it will be even more accessible.
It's a brilliant project and I regret doubting the governor's decision to move the library into that section of the city. I now think it was the best thing that happened to the library.
Having said that, this doesn't mean I agree with all her projects. I still think it was a bad idea to convert the Heroes Hall into an SM. But that's for another time and place.
Today, I tip my hat to Governor Imee for the Sirib Mile and iHub projects. Congrats, ma'am!
PS: Though the library now has a lot of computers, it still lacks books. If you or your organization have books and any reading materials to spare, please donate to iHub Ilocos Norte, c/o Provincial Librarian Matilde M. Nery.