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article imageFilipino man's home doubles as public library

By Abigail Prendergast     Sep 21, 2012 in Odd News
Hernando Guanlao - an older, albeit high-spirited man - opened up his home as a library to the public in the Filipino province of Manila 12 years ago. Now, he is looking to expand his successful endeavor beyond Manila toward other parts of the country.
Hernando Guanlao, a surprisingly energetic man in his early 60s, has one passion above all else in his life - books.
And according to BBC News, Guanlao, known better as Nanie, decided to share his love of the written word some twelve years ago with people by opening his collection up to the public.
"The only rule is that there are no rules," Guanlao said of his library - or in his words, book club - in central Manila. The basis being that people can come and take whatever books they want, for however long they want. They are even allowed to keep them.
One may think such a policy would leave Guanlao high and dry of reading material; but instead it turned his initial less than 100 book collection into a staggering 2,000 plus book collection via donations. And that is just on the front lawn.
Guanlao first conceived the library idea back in 2000 after the death of his parents. Trying to discover something to honor their memory with, he came across some of his old textbooks and decided to use the written word as an ode to them for giving him his reading habit.
"I saw my old textbooks upstairs and decided to come up with the concept of having the public use them," he said.
One of the library's caretakers, a woman named Celine, points out what a great idea Guanlao had by opening up his home to be used as a book club.
"I haven't been to any public libraries except the national library in Manila," she said, explaining the lack of ability Filipinos have to access reading material - especially in poorer areas.
Guanlao doesn't sit around and wait for books to hit his shelves; instead he goes out on his "book bike," seeking out more and more titles and transporting them home within its large basket.
In the latest turn of events, Guanlao is looking to expand his library to regions beyond Manila. He has given several boxes of books to a man in the Bicol province who hopes to bring the successful venture to that area. Said province is a ten-hour drive from Nanie's home. Even more recently, is the endeavor to help a female friend put together a "book boat" and bring literary works to the southern islands of Sulu and Basilan.
"You don't do justice to these books if you put them in a cabinet or a box," Guanlao told BBC, regarding his motivation and ambition to rely on savings to keep his library going. "A book should be used and reused. It has life, it has a message.
"As a book caretaker, you become a full man."
More about Manila, filipono, Library, Book club