Ateneo de Manila University formally inaugurated its new library on December 8, 2009, in rites led by then University President Fr. Bienvenido F. Nebres, SJ. The opening occurred within the celebration of the University’s sesquicentennial, an event that happens, as Fr. Nebres so neatly puts it, “Not just once in a lifetime, but (the sesquicentennial happens) once in many lifetimes.”
The crowd that gathered at the new lobby of the building was composed mostly of alumni, many of whom had contributed to the construction of the five floor facility. Among those present included PLDT Chairman Manuel V Pangilinan and Benny Santoso of the Salim group, both of whom were instrumental in bringing the building to life. Other personalities in the crowd included Fr. Robert Suchan, SJ, the first director and chief librarian of the Rizal Librar y, and Tony Meloto of Gawad Kalinga.
Rizal Library Director Lourdes David spoke about the development of the library, from its beginning to how it had kept up with rapidly changing times. The rapid growth in influence of the Internet and the increase in the Ateneo’s student population made it clear that a new building was necessary for the university to be able to provide the research and learning facilities required by students and faculty members. From hastily strung wires across the original Rizal Library’s walls to a “smart” building designed to meet the needs of the community for “at least another 50 years,” according to Mrs. David, the new building is more than ready to serve the University for generations to come.
Mr. Pangilinan and Mr. Santoso, who were both cited for their contributions to the construction of the new library capped the evening’s activities. Mr. Santoso gave brief, but direct remarks about the wonders of the library and the school while Mr. Pangilinan shared stories about his formative years in the Ateneo and that time when the library was still in the second floor of Xavier Hall, and how various teachers helped shape him into the person that he is today. He also extolled the virtues of a library, that even in a time when the Internet and computers have become so indispensable, a library offers more than just books and information; it offers a place for interaction and discussion, something which the new library was precisely designed for.