Hernando Guanlao has one overwhelming passion -- books. And in an attempt to spread his love of literature to people around him, he's turned his home into a public library.
Guanlao, known by his nickname Nanie, has set up an informal library outside his home in central Manila to encourage his local community to read more.
The idea is simple but revolutionary: Locals can take as many books as they want, for as long as they want -- even permanently -- and the whole operation is open 24/7.
“It’s fine with me because I know that (people) need (the books) and in my mind, whatever they take, even everything, will be returned a thousand fold,” Nanie told the Inquirer Life Style.
Nanie prefers to think of the library he has been running for the past 12 years as a book club -- one where community members can come to discuss different books and literature. Gunlao's project is formally called The Reading Club 2000; but many know it simply as “the library on Balagtas Street."
Amazingly, the library continues to grow until the shelves are almost overflowing.
BBC News reported that Nanie first got the idea of transforming his home into a public library shortly after his parents died. He was looking for a way to honor their memory and thought that spreading their love of reading was the best way.
"I saw my old textbooks upstairs and decided to come up with the concept of having the public use them," he told BBC.
The library began with fewer than 100 books, but the collection has grown so exponentially that Nanie is no longer able to keep track of the number of books he has. BBC reports that between 3,000 and 4,000 books are just outside the front door, and the library also continues inside Nanie's home, where they are stacked around the living room and the stairs.
"I haven't been to any public libraries except the national library in Manila," Nanie's neighbor told BBC, explaining that it is quite far away -- and it is not possible to borrow any books.
According to the 13th Geek blog, Nanie also has an abiding desire to help Manila's poorest. He does not wait for them to find him -- he goes to them, on his "book bike", which has a large basket piled high with books.
“I decided to become mobile and came up with a prototype like this,” he says, showing off a bicycle fitted with a sidecar that is crammed full of books, newspapers and magazines, with a laptop lashed to the back of the vehicle.
GMA News reported that Nanie has also started to set his sights outside Manila. He's already given several boxes of books to a man trying to set up a similar venture in Bicol province, a 10-hour drive from Manila, and his latest plan is to help a friend who wants to start up a library in the far south of the country.
"You don't do justice to these books if you put them in a cabinet or a box," he told the Inquirer. "A book should be used and reused. It has life, it has a message. As a book caretaker, you become a full man."
Watch a video of the incredible library above, courtesy of GMA news.
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