TAIWAN, the Philippines’s island-neighbor to the north, has grown by leaps and bounds compared with many of its neighbors in Asean.
One major reason is its government has spared neither money nor technology to bring the latest state-of-the-art learning environment to its constituents.
A case in point and in fact, a showcase and pride is the New Taipei City Public Library in the capital’s Banqiao District. Opened in 2014, the smart library boasts of thousands of book titles, magazines and newspapers—in Mandarin, English and their original language—for its residents to peruse. Different sections of the library are open at various times throughout the day, ensuring the library remains open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Like many tourist destinations in Taiwan, the first floor of the library features an eating place for visitors where the young ones play, yell, and run around while their parents and older caretakers eat, rest and relax.
The four-story structure is infused with both natural light and reading-conducive electronic lighting, and has escalators and elevators to help the old and the young more around better. While it maintains staff, it has many self-help machines and other self-service, automated stations that process book requests, dispense books and systematically return books to shelves.
One does not even have to be physically present at the library to locate and reserve books. One can do so online and get notification when the reserved book or requested reading material becomes available.
The book-drop found outside the library is connected to a sorting machine that reads bar codes, sorts out the books and returns them to their shelves.
The library has sections for general reading and special sections for children too young to read. A storytelling section is reserved where their older companions can read aloud books to tell them stories. The section feels like home, as it even features shelves where kids and their companions can leave their footwear. They can read either on chairs and tables or casually slump on the floor.
The young readers’ section features fun-looking and colorful book-processing machines that process books and other reading materials young readers can use to take home their selections.
For newspaper-reading adults, gadgets that hold open broadsheets to make reading comfortable even for older readers are ready for use. If a reader’s favorite newspaper is not available, it is requested for everyday availability.
Mitac Information Technology Corp., the company that built the library structure and furnished its intelligent library-management system, sent representatives to give a group of Filipino journalists a tour of the premises on July 19. The representatives said currently, several private and public universities in the Philippines are using their book-processing system, including the main library of University of the Philippines (UP) in Diliman, Quezon City; UP Manila; and Mapua University.
The library visit was part of a weeklong familiarization tour of Taiwan sponsored by the Taiwan Association in the Philippines, the Taiwan Economic and Cultural Office and Jeron Travel in preparation for the 2017 Taiwan Exposition to be held at the Mall of Asia from September 29 to October 1. The exhibit will feature Taiwan companies involved in technology, manufacture, food processing and other industries. A total of 21 universities in Taiwan will also maintain booths during the three-day exhibit to invite Filipino students to study in Taiwan universities.
Image credits: Efleda P. Campos