Through all the challenges people in the Philippines have had to endure amid the COVID-19 pandemic, one thing that managed to stand out is Filipinos’ resourcefulness. We know about the many COVID-19 initiatives that have sprung up in the midst of the chaos, many of which require monetary donations and organised charity events. But there’s also such a thing as a community e-library.
It was April 2021 when community pantries in the Philippines emerged. The idea was to aid underprivileged Filipinos by letting others donate some of their food and medicinal supplies in an outdoor pantry. There, the former could access them for free. Around the same time, other Filipinos online initiated a community e-library. In a single Google Drive link, everyone can access online copies of various books. It doesn’t matter if it’s for the purposes of school, work, or even personal amusement.
How the community e-library started
The 2021 community e-library was started by Twitter users Alfonso Manalastas and Bon Ivermectin. It’s basically an open-access Google Drive folder that lets one download Portable Document Format or PDF copies of local literary works. Alternatively, those who already have access to other similar resources can upload them to the same folder for others to use.
According to Ivermectin, the initiative was inspired by the community pantry project pioneered by Ana Patricia Non. In a Twitter post, Ivermectin said, “Imagine kung maia-apply natin sa iba pang bagay ang prinsipyo ng community pantries. I mean, these aren’t new concepts at ginagawa naman talaga ang mga ito, pero naging alien na sa atin,” referring to things like community gardens, parks, and e-libraries.
Shortly after the tweet, Ivermectin, along with Manalastas, brought the community e-library to life. “We started this project to promote convenient entertainment and education in the time of COVID-19. In this digital and tumultuous era, we believe that written resources should be shared and never gatekept,” the two stressed in a Google Doc file uploaded to the e-library link.
How to use it for sharing or downloading books
The folder is currently accessible via this link. The books are categorised according to the genre or type of written work, as well as the author. Some topics include psychology, business, history, and even nursing. Other folders are dedicated to fiction, comics, journals, poetry, and self-help books. When sharing materials by Filipino writers, Manalastas emphasised that they must be uploaded with the authors’ consent.
The community e-library is not owned by any single person, organisation, or political party, the two Filipinos also assured. Taking inspiration from the community pantry tagline, they remind the users of the Google Drive resource, “Mag-upload ayon sa kakayanan at magbasa ayon sa kagustuhan!”
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