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The University Library of the Mindanao State University main campus in Marawi City has become the students’ second home. (photo by Gregorio Buena, Mindanews)

Transformation into Marawi’s ‘happy place’

The once drab and dreary University Library of the Mindanao State University has been transformed into the students’ – and Marawi’s – “happy place.” OIC dIrector Elin Anisha Guro says students now call the library their second home. (photo by Gregorio Buena, Mindanews)

2nd of two parts

THE first step at transforming the library into what is now the students’ “second home,” the “happy place,” began with a fresh coat of paint, recalls Elin Anisha Guro, chancellor for research and extension and OIC director of the university library.

The walls are now brightly colored — at least two with Sarimanok artwork and the ceiling at the Coffeebooker’s Lounge which has a painting of the legendary Omakaan, — have all become “instagrammable,” including the multicolored steps based on the cover of the Darangen books, and different versions of “welcome” on the stairway to the second floor.

The Sarimanok is a mythical bird in Meranaw tales and one can have a photograph between the bird’s wings in flight (by the stairway) or with the bird itself (in the Banggolo).

Omakaan is the legendary giant who can stop the flow of Lake Lanao with just one hand. Staff members of the E-library at the Raya A Torogan instruct visitors on how to take a selfie or groufie with the giant.

Aside from coffee, one can have a fun way of measuring one’s height through a painting of books piled up on one side and on the other side, at the foot of the giant.

The design of the stairway is based on the cover of the Darangen books, a reference to the fact that Darangen, “used to be an integral part of the Meranaws’ way of life … a compendium epic that originated from the Meranaw tribe and declared by the Unesco as a masterpiece in the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.”

Guro and her team — Soraya P. Manamparan, Sittie Saadia M. Muti, Faishanie P. Macalantong, Ahlam Rohaima A. Usodan, Sorayyah. M. Casanguan — went to work immediately after Guro was appointed OIC director on May 21, 2018.

Four months later, on Sept. 24, they had a “soft re-launching” of the University Library, this time with a new signage outside the building, in three languages: English (University Library), Arabic (script) and Meranaw: “Torogan A Ilmo Sa Pantaw A Mareg” which literally means “Home of Knowledge in MSU.”

Moving Boundaries

On its re-launching, the Library’s theme was “Moving Boundaries: Re-living, Re-claiming and Re-creating Meranaw Tradition, Culture, and Language.”

Another four months later, on Jan. 25, 2019, the University Library received the “Outstanding Library Program of the Year Award” for 2018 from the Philippine Association of Academic and Research Librarians Inc. (Paarl) “for its outstanding campaign and efforts in promoting information literacy at the Mindanao State University; for creating programs that strengthen the relationship, enhance communication, and forge better connection between the University Library and its community; and for its initiatives to promote and preserve the Meranaw culture for the future generation.”

More than just the physical transformation, the University Library has also initiated programs that include reviving the story-telling tradition of the Meranaws, including activities for children displaced by the Marawi Siege and children from various schools, tree-planting, spoken word festival, poetry reading, malong day, film showing, workshops, posting of notes on the freedom wall, even hosting a board games competition.

Transforming Lives

On April 8, the University Library launched its “New Spaces and Art,” this time with the theme: “Transforming Lives: Re-imagining, Re-tooling, and Re-creating the University Library.”

The activity was actually a launching of so many projects, including the provision of a separate water pump for the library, to ensure a steady supply of water for the students’ academic and religious needs, for the ablution rooms and for the maintenance of cleanliness in the comfort rooms.

The ablution rooms are the first established in an office in Lanao del Sur and was pre-launched on March11.

The University president, Dr. Habib Macaayong, approved the library’s request for a separate water pump and a dedicated 75 KVA transformer.

Several murals were also introduced on April 8. The Omakaan mural at the Coffeebooker’s Lounge which is not just a mural for height measurement but also an “artistic homage to the oral literature of the Meranaw;” a mural by Jeho Bitancor on the Marawi Siege on display at the American Corner Digi-Hub where many students converge for the free wi-fi; the interactive Sarimanok in flight on the wall of the Darangen stairway which “turns the person into the Sarimanok in flight, soaring above the clouds,” reflecting the dream of the University Library “to be the Sarimanok reaching the highest height in serving its patrons; and the Kamais mural showing a cart of corn for sale, to pay tribute to those young vendors who were a “special part of MSU student life” and to “instill love for the environment to present-day MSUans.”

The graduating students say it would have been nice if the library had been like this when they were in first year, but as Gerald puts it: “This is very good para sa newcomers. Dito na sila pupunta” (This is very good for the newcomers. They will come here).

The creativity of Guro and her team of librarians has been acknowledged not only by the Paarl which gave the University Library the “Outstanding Library” award in January but by the students who have found a home in this “happy place.” (Carolyn O. Arguillas of Mindanews)


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TREND MAKER. Mindanao Gold Star Daily was established in 1989 to set ablaze a new meaning & flame to the local newspaper business. Throughout the years it continued its focus and interest in the rural areas & pioneered the growth of countryside journalism.

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