Stephanie Jarina takes her love for books to a new level
By Deneb Batucan
NOTHING beats the feeling of skimming one’s fingers through a newly printed book. And as you read on, the faint smell of ink and paper melded into one takes a person into a whole new world full of discoveries and endless possibilities.
This and more are what Stephanie Jarina experiences every time she picks up a book for a good read. As a self-proclaimed bookworm, she has gone above and beyond her love for books. She is on a mission to revitalize the Cebu City Public Library.
The Cebu City Public Library has been established since 1919, yet not a lot of young people even know it exists. Stephanie notes that while the library is already a threshold of beautiful books and also has a selection of books that traces the Cebuanos’ humble beginnings, most of the young ones don’t even know where it is.
That’s why she and her friends from the Youth for a Livable Cebu (YLC) started Beyond Books — a project that aims to bring back the people to the Cebu City Public Library and make it an information hub that is adaptive to today’s technologies.
“The library is an equalizer. Everyone has access to it. Anyone, regardless of economic status, can come here in the library. Hopefully, the ultimate goal is make the city library a venue of relevant information,” said Stephanie.
Books and childhood
Stephanie’s love for books stems back to her childhood days. As an only child, her early life centered on two places: home and school. Growing up in an apartment building, she didn’t have that sense of community that people who grow up in subdivisions or provinces have. “My outlet has always been reading books,” she said.
Her fascination with libraries was triggered when she saw the movie Matilda. “I related to her. She was an only child like me and also loved to read,” she said. Stephanie related to Matilda so much that she even tried to bend a spoon with her mind.
To escape from life’s humdrum days, she delved into different kinds of books but mostly junior classics. But she wanted to read more from what her school library could offer. “At that time, I was looking for a public library. Since I wasn’t allowed to go out yet, it was only till high school that I got to go to the Cebu City Public Library,” she said. “The library has always been a special place for me because it was where I would read by myself.”
Beyond Books is YLC’s initiative to bring back the people to the library by making it not only a place to read but also a venue where relevant and reliable information can be found as well as a place where skills can be learned through various workshops. “That’s why it’s called Beyond Books because you can do more than read here in the library. You can learn different skills and information here through the different workshops we offer,” she said.
First in their month-long list of activities that happens every Saturday this May was the basic watercolor, storyboard making and scriptwriting workshop. They also had an introduction to theatre monologues as well as poetry reading. Children and young adults participated in their book swap where they brought in a book that they really like and shared it with other people. It’s both engaging and educational.
Stephanie hopes to bring in more people to the library. And hopefully, when more and more people came in, the Cebu City Public Library will expand and transform into an information and community center that is adaptive to today’s technologies.
“We’re doing this for the younger generation. We want the library to be here for the long term. So it’s better that they start coming to the library as early as now. Hopefully, when they grow up, they will always come back here and treat this as a place where they could find credible and relevant information and that they go back to books,” Stephanie said.
Photos: Alfred Gregory E. Bartolome
Make-up Artist: Carlo Damolo
Hair Stylist: Jerwin Bastatas
Locale: Cebu City Public Library