Let no more than the usual suspects be a testament to how much the world has technologically changed and otherwise confused the common bookworm of the inexistence of quality, tenable, and time-honored books. With the advent of E-books and personal libraries, a part of society is left out on the timbre that is good readings and lasting memories. Inspired by the call to preserve and uphold the experience of reading, William Ti Jr. thought of standing up to by envisioning a plan that would be the next step for pop-up books—a pop-up library.
A mobile library for a mobile generation
With almost 800 pre-loved books housed within its premises, The Book Stop Project is far from your traditional library. The reading space, with its oddly shaped steel structure, naturally spurs passers-by onto its wooden benches and decked out shelves, offering its visitors an experiential journey through the pleasures of the written word.
The pop-up library, now on its fourth location in the historical Quezon Memorial Circle grounds, serves as a mobile library for a mobile generation. In a time where digital has taken over and countless e-books and informational articles lie readily available at our fingertips, The Book Stop Project proves that libraries remain relevant in today’s society; it gentrifies its physical structure with inventive architecture and provides an intimate and personal take on the outmoded institution.
The Book Stop Project was launched last April 23, 2016 in honor of World Book Day. Inspired by the countless pop-up libraries roaming around the city’s streets and alleyways during a trip to Moscow, William Ti, Jr. led his team at the WTA Architecture and Design Studio to create an urban initiative project which sets out to stimulate libraries as inviting public spaces by moving from neighborhood to neighborhood, and placing them in open, accessible locations.
Solace in communion
The idea is simple: Give a book, get a book. The one is to one exchange serves as a way to get people talking to one another and encourages the healthy exchange of ideas and interactions within the community.
“Aside from trying to bring the books closer to people and trying to make them more accessible, we also want to build a community that aside from being honest is willing to share ideas through the redistribution of books,” explains Teresa Ng, the project librarian of The Book Stop. Truly, with the initiative to share also comes the initiative to be conscientious in reciprocating such honesty. The Book Stop has done that and even more.
Traversing well beyond its goal of redistributing books for everyone to read, the first pop-up library in the country also wishes to foster a family that values individual integrity as well as collective integrity. That’s to say that even outside the 4 hardbound corners of a book lies the principles of being honest and selfless despite being the only one.
“We teach the community that even though it’s free, we have rules that call for competent return and selfless giving. So I think the project develops a more positive community,” Teresa Ng explains in Filipino. To be confined, then, among the realm of the written imaginary would be a futile exercise of preparing the readers for the real world—a dilemma answered by The Book Stop Project.
Advocacy of a lifetime
Much more than the sharing and redistribution of reading among the vast gradient of members within the community, The Book Stop Project upholds an advocacy that stands the test of time: The savoir-faire of appreciating hardbound books. Fueled by a never ending and animated supply of volunteers, the first Filipino pop-up library promotes the value of old school, backstreet reading with a book in hand and a cluster of pages already flipped. “There really is a difference when you’re actually holding a book like newspapers,” describes Teresa Ng. Guided by the principle of meritocratic return, the inaugural Book Stop librarian believes that going through the tangible pages of a book is just hard work to the immeasurable effort spent by the authors behind the conception masterpiece.
It is its overwhelming impact, however, of The Book Stop Project that truly makes it laudable for a public good. Staying true to its manifesto of having an advocacy of a lifetime, the pop-up library finds itself well among the mix of street children taking time off their day job as panhandlers to spending quality time reading school books and timeless classics.
“We are teaching the kids how to read during their free time so they would develop the love for reading instead of going elsewhere,” Teresa said in Filipino. A mission worth a lifetime, The Book Stop Project has done its part in making the way.
The future of The Book Stop Project
Despite the allure and public good it may bring, The Book Stop Project still encounters a number of challenges in maintaining a public library. For one, the lack of constant surveillance oftentimes results into the mishandling of books and defacement of property. The structure has also started to wear and tear with the constant influx of visitors, yet the team at The Book Stop Project remain positive.
“With patience we deal with the challenges because there are a lot of great things that we can get from the project and we don’t want the bad to outweigh that,” explains Teresa in Filipino.
There is also the challenge of engaging more of the Filipino community to start reading. To further promote the project, the venue holds various events open to the public. One of these is the open mic poetry night which is a gathering of different artists and purveyors of the spoken word. Blind Date With a Book serves as a testament to the old adage of not judging a book by its cover through an exchange of wrapped books within the participants. Talks featuring different authors as welI as storytelling for children are also held occasionally.
When asked what the dream for The Book Stop Project is 5-10 years from now, Teresa proudly responds that apart from having four more book stops around the metro, as well as expanding to other provinces, the team would also like to establish a permanent library. “Aside from wanting to make books more relevant to people, we want libraries to be relevant as well no matter how modernized our society becomes.”
Although The Book Stop Project still has yet to fully expand its horizons, there is no doubt that this young endeavor has helped in advocating for literature and the reinvigoration of the library experience. As our world continues to grow and technology continues to advance, libraries remain resilient in holding the tactile appeal of the printed page and the timelessness of the institutions that hold them. It’s not much, but is definitely a step in the right direction.