Sunday, November 21, 2010

A Mindanao Librarian Once Again Makes it to the Top

The Board for Librarians released on 15 November 2010 a list of passers of the Librarians Licensure Examinations (

Mindanao is proud to have one librarian make it to the top this year. Congratulations to Ms. Aldiane Joy Basali Ambit of the Holy Cross College of Davao for making it to second place. 

Mindanao Librarian wishes to congratulate all her new colleagues. 

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Of RA 7743 and SB 1428

Sitio Aspang, Barangay San Jose, General Santos City. Life goes on here for scores of Blaan schoolchildren, in this sleepy little sitio up in the mountains off General Santos City. Not one of the children here has seen a library, or knows what a library is. Had RA 7743 been implemented, the absence of a school library would have been addressed by a reading center in their barangay. But there is none either. I wonder if the members of the barangay council are even aware that in 1993, Republic Act 7743, otherwise known as An Act Providing for the Establishment of Congressional, City and Municipal Libraries and Barangay Reading Centers throughout the Philippines was passed. Seventeen years hence, the country is still too far from implementing this mandate fully.

Now here comes Senate Bill 1428, sponsored by library advocate Sen. Loren Legarda. It seeks to amend RA 7743 to ensure that “all public libraries (in the Philippines) adhere to the demands of a globalized Filipino nation.”  In order to do this, the bill seeks to increase the budget of the National Library to PHP5M per year so that it is able to provide reading materials and supplies to public libraries. It mandates “local government units to undertake the maintenance of public libraries and reading centers”. This, ”until all municipalities and cities have access to full electronic library facilities.” Timeline is 2013.

As an advocate for public libraries, I should be rejoicing. For once again, courtesy of SB1428, public libraries are put back to limelight and the consciousness of the Filipino people. Hopefully it will draw long-overdue attention to the advocacy for public libraries, an advocacy that seems to have drowned amidst a sea of other basic priorities. While a part of me rejoices, the other part wonders.

I wonder whether the amendment to the existing mandate came after an assessment of the implementation of RA 7743, such that the whys of its poor implementation are understood and appropriately addressed.  I wonder whether the amendment bill drew important lessons from the previous mandate such that history does not repeat itself.  I wonder how an amendment to a poorly-implemented mandate can now be guaranteed its well-deserved support from the implementing government units and agencies at the local level. I wonder how implementation will look like without drumbeating this advocacy so that public libraries are resurrected back to the consciousness of the Filipinos, in general, and the implementers, in particular. I wonder whether 2013 is a reasonable deadline, considering the absence of information and communication infrastructures in most of the remote communities in the Philippines.

I do not doubt RA 7743 and SB 1428’s intentions. I know they are noble and clear. But like other mandates, translating them to concrete terms is a straightforward question of political will. Political will, over and above the absence of resources and capacities (which often become excuses more than causes), seems to be SB1428s only hope.

Until then, Sitio Aspang, Barangay San Jose, General Santos City, like other remote communities in the country, will continue to see their children navigating ill or less-equipped their increasingly information and technology-driven environments. They will continue to see children growing old without knowing what a public library is, and how much that public learning place can contribute to both their individual development and the transformation of their communities.

Despite all apprehensions, I  still choose to pin my hopes. 

24th SOCOLA General Assembly and Seminar-Workshop

The SOCSKSARGEN Librarians Association, Inc. (SOCOLA) is convening its 24th General Assembly and Seminar-Workshop on Plagiarism and Research and the Role of Librarians in the Protection of Intellectual Integrity on October 22, 2010 at the St. Alexius College, Inc., Gensan Drive, City of Koronadal, South Cotabato. There will also be a special demonstration of basic book binding and repair which librarians will particularly find useful.

The seminar fee is PHP500.00. It will cover two (2) snacks, lunch, kit and certificate.

Please contact the following for further details:

Mr. Arvin M. Tejada (083-520054/ 0907731886/ 
Mrs. Fe G. Diaz (083-2282218 local 126/ 09264335698/

Interested participants may download the invitation letter and the programme by clicking on the links below:

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Emerging Concepts for Libraries as Learning Spaces

Both libraries and bookstores display reading stuff, but where would most people rather go to? The bookstore would likely be a resounding choice.  There is something about bookstores that attract clients and lure them to linger inside.  This is what libraries are now learning from. 

As libraries of this century transform and re-engineer services and programs in response to changing times, so should library space management and design. Libraries today are user-centered learning spaces. Thus, "libraries need to make themselves special places (for people) to meet and to have conversations....(Library) buildings need to inspire communites of learners". This, according to Les Watson,  an expert on technology-enhanced environments and Library As Learning Space Champion. 

Mindanao librarians, even if perennially constrained by lack and absence of resources, can think of ways to learn from existing and emerging designs. They can identify ideas which can be adopted and tweaked to fit the budget and to suit local needs and clients.  If libraries are to be learning spaces that encourage collaboration and exchange of ideas, there is no other way but move forward and embrace emerging trends. Here are a number of online resources for library designs: 

Click on the images


Saturday, August 7, 2010

Making a Difference: Koronadal City Schools Library Hub Advocates for School Libraries

There is hope for the advocacy for public school libraries, at least in Koronadal City.

This, according to Ms. Luz Lalli I. Ferrer Department of Education (DepEd) Koronadal City Schools ES-I English Supervisor and Library Hub Coordinator and Mr. Arvin M. Tejada, Library Hub Division Librarian, is what they hope to demonstrate through the Division Library Hub. For the two, the vision is for the Division Library Hub to be a space for more creative pursuits for the advancement of the advocacy for school libraries instead of just remaining to be just a transitory warehouse for books waiting to be loaned to public schools on a rotation basis.

The DepEd Koronadal Library Hub is lucky. OIC-DepEd Division Superintendent Ms. Adelfa N. Espartero is very supportive. Ms. Luz Lalli Ferrer, Library Hub Coordinator being an English Supervisor, understands how important it is for a child to first acquire the habit of reading, and comprehending. Both educators understand that reading must start with the printed word. Arvin Tejada, on the other hand, has always been a staunch advocate for public libraries, mobilizing teams of volunteers students to help schools start their libraries while he was still moderator of the Books and Information Technology Society (BITS) at the the Notre Dame of Marbel University, also in Koronadal City. His move to the public school system early this year as the new Division Librarian is expected to render more meaning and credence to this advocacy. With the right combination of people, the advocacy for school libraries can be pushed to greater heights.

And so, on June 26 June 2010, the Division Library Hub convened for the first time a pool of  teacher-librarian designates from all fourty-four (44) public elementary and secondary schools in Koronadal City. The objective was to (a) orient them on the intentions of the Library Hub Project, (b) set the direction of the Divison Library Hub, and culminated in a planning session to (3) to chart the future of their school libraries.

I felt privileged to have been invited to this kick-off activity where I shared highlights of a baseline research paper I delivered at the 34th International Association of School Librarianship (IASL) Conference in Hong Kong, China on the state of public and school libraries in the Provinces of South Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat. Although I talked of dismal figures taken in 2005 and noted that no movement has changed five years hence, I guess it paid to have laid down the cards once again so that current and future actions can take off where it is most needed. Like the convenors, I share the advocacy and am one with them in their long-term vision which is the development of school libraries in the Philippine public school system. Specifically for DepEd Koronadal City Schools, the Library Hub is envisioned to take a more proactive role by spearheading the initiative to assist public schools within the city in establishing/building school libraries and the development of collections. This challenge undoubtedly requires more stakeholder participation and complex interventions but there is clear commitment to this advocacy from key and influential personalities in DepEd-KC. This is what is crucial.

A planning workshop held on the same day propelled this initiative to motion. In the future, there will be more venues for capacity-building and skills development for school library and media center management. This is where the DepEd Library Hub-Koronadal City Schools Division hope to make a difference. This is how the advocates hope to get to their vision of seeing more children reading and more school libraries built for the public school system.


Get Hold While on Open Access Period! FREE Resource Description and Access (RDA) Toolkit

Resource Description and Access (RDA)  is on an open-access period. This privilege is up until the end of August 2010. For the benefit of librarians and information professionals who have heard of RDA for the first time, RDA is a cataloger's newest tool. It provides guidelines on cataloging digital resources, and as such, is intended to replace the 2nd Edition of the Anglo-American Rules (AACR2). The strength of the RDA lies on the strong emphasis it places on helping users find, identify, select and obtain the information they want. 

RDA is a result of a collaborative work led by the Joint Steering Committee (JSC) and overseen by the Committee of Principals representing American Library Association, Canadian Library Association, CILIP: Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals, Library of Congress, Library and Archives Canada, British Library, and National Library of Australia. 

The video below introduces RDA Toolkit in a clearcut manner.

RDA Toolkit -- A Guided Tour -- 02/09/10 from ALA Publishing on Vimeo.

A more comprehensive information on the RDA and details on signing up can be found in

Friday, August 6, 2010


Philippine Librarians Association Incorporated (PLAI)
SOCCSKSARGEN Region Librarians Council

in coordination with the

SOCCSKSARGEN Librarians Association (SOCOLA) and
Cotabato Libraries Information Network (COLINET)

invite you to a

Seminar Workshop on
Information Analysis in the Digital Environment

This 2-day activity coincides with PLAI-SOCCSKSARGEN'S 2nd Annual General Assembly and will be held on August 19-20, 2010 at the Tierra Montana Hotel, National Highway, General Santos City.

There will also be an election of officers for PLAI SOCCSKSARGEN Region Librarians Council during the Annual Assembly. Registration Fee is PhP 2,500.00 (PLAI members/non-members) and PhP 1,200.00 (Library Science Students). The fee covers lunch and snacks for 2 days, conference kit, certificate and fellowship dinner which highlights the Oath Taking Ceremony of newly elected officers of PLAI-SOCCSKSARGEN Region Librarians Council  and COLINET officers as well.

For further inquiries, please contact any of the following:

Anita C. Sornito
cellphone: 09208085902

Victoria R. Santos
cellphone: 09175011042

PLAI members are reminded of their annual dues for FY 2010 of Pp300.00 which may be paid during the general assembly. Official PLAI ID will be issued upon payment.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

2010 National Book Week Theme

The National Book Week is being celebrated annually in the 3rd week of the month of November which also coincides with the National Book Month.  This year's theme is:

"Pandaigdigang Pakikipag-ugnayan sa Pamamagitan ng mga Aklat at Impormasyong Teknolohiya at Komunikasyon"

We enjoin fellow librarians/information professionals, educators, and advocates for libraries to support this annual celebration by hosting events that mainstream love for reading and surface the value of libraries and information centers and the role they play in individual transformation and the development of communities.

Upcoming: PLAI National Congress in Cebu

This year's PLAI National Congress will be held at the WaterFront Cebu City Hotel on November 17-19, 2010 with the  theme:  "National Congress on International Librarianship : a Path Ahead".

The objective of the Congress are as follows:  

Athe end of the three days conference, the participants should have been able to:
  1.  be more cognizant in the promotion of global and international cooperation;
  2. know the other dimensions and importance of international librarianship;
  3. make the public aware of the importance and benefits that can be derived from international librarianship thru international understanding and cooperation;
  4. promote service to clients in an international scale;
  5. gain knowledge on international librarianship; and
  6. know the current status and inter-relationship of different types of libraries and librarians

Topics include the following: 

Session 1 - Global Librarianship : Issues and Trends the Philippine Experience 
Ms Salvacion M. Arlante, Library Director, University of the Philippines Diliman Library

Session 2 - Legal Issues Affecting Philippine Librarianship 
Prof. Antonio M. Santos, Law Librarian, UP Law Library

Session 3 - Legal Issues Affecting Global/International Librarianship
Prof. Jules Winterton, President, International Association of Law Libraries

Session 4 - Access to Information : Barriers and Responsibilities
Dir. Barbara Jones, University Librarian

Session 5 - Partnership in Professional Development for Librarians
Dir. Barbara Ford, Director, Mortenson Center for International Library Programs

Session 6 - Global Linkages : Challenges an Opportunies by Ms Ngian Lek Choh
Immediate Past President, Library Association of Singapore

Session 7 - Pathfinders Database : National Library Board (NLB) Experience

Session 8 - Trends in Curriculum Development : The Philippine Experience
Dean Vyva Victoria M. Aguirre, UP-School of Library and Information Studies

Session 9 - Library International Outreach Program
Mr. Michael Dowling/Prof. John Latham, ALA/SLA, Director, International Relations Office

Session 10 - PLAI and CPE Updates
Mrs. Lilia F. Echiverri, President, PLAI

Registration Fee: PhP 4,500.00 (no hotel accommodation). 

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Upcoming Events for Librarians and Information Professionals

July 28-30, 2010
Philippine Librarians’ Association, Inc.  (PLAI) National Conference  
(in cooperation with the  Cagayan Valley Region Librarians Council (CaVRLC)
Sacred Heart Center
Saint Mary’s University 
Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya. 
 “Enriching the Culture of Collaboration Among Educational Institutions and Their Libraries” 
Conference Fee: P3,800.00 (live-in participant) and P3,000.00 (live-out participants). Fee includes 3 lunches, 6 snacks and certificates and other incidentals.

Other Information:
A site seeing tour to Banaue is being planned. Please prepare for an additional amount of P350.00 for this activity.

29-31 July 2010

An Intensive Course on the Conservation of Books and Paper

25-27 August 2010
A Conference on the theme of Preservation: Trends and Challenges

25-26 October 2010
4th Rizal Library International Conference
“Library Spaces: Building Effective and Sustainable Physical and Virtual Libraries”

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Upcoming Events for Librarians and Information Professionals

Fellow librarians, information professionals, reading and reader development advocates:

Following is a list of upcoming events which may be relevant to our work and interests. Please click on the links for further details.

July 28-30, 2010
Philippine Librarians’ Association, Inc.  (PLAI) National Conference  
(in cooperation with the  Cagayan Valley Region Librarians Council (CaVRLC)
“Enriching the Culture of Collaboration Among Educational Institutions and Their Libraries” 
Sacred Heart Center
Saint Mary’s University 
Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya. 

Conference Fee: P3,800.00 (live-in participant) and P3,000.00 (live-out participants). Fee includes 3 lunches, 6 snacks and certificates and other incidentals.

Other Information:
A site seeing tour to Banaue is being planned. Please prepare for an additional amount of P350.00 for this activity.

29-31 July 2010

An Intensive Course on the Conservation of Books and Paper

25-27 August 2010

25-26 October 2010
“Library Spaces: Building Effective and Sustainable Physical and Virtual Libraries”

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A GSIS Policy Interpretation and Press Release that Defy Logic

I am a legitimate representative of two erstwhile government servants, my mother, now 76, and an octogenarian aunt. It all began when their GSIS pensions stopped coming in December 2009.

On December 9, 2009, I asked the local GSIS Office in General Santos why my mother's pension for December was not credited to her account. It took a few more days before I'd be given an answer. They claimed that she has not renewed her membership on her birth month which was September. I said, she did a week prior to her September 1 birthday, could that not be considered? They said no. I asked how come she was able to still receive her October and November pensions, and they told me that was part of the two-month allowance they were giving the pensioners to renew.

In a chain of emails between the local GSIS office and myself in the weeks following January 9, 2010, I would seek for further clarifications, which they gave because I was persistent. I wanted to get exact dates as to when the suspended pensions will be credited; and when the mandated cash gift can be expected. In their reply they claimed that they already sought pension accrual for the suspended December pension but the reply was  initially mum about the cash gift. Out of sheer persistence, I finally got the answer yesterday. For failing to renew on their respective birth months, my mother, along with my aunt, and who knows maybe countless others who could not speak, or who opted not to ask, will not be able to receive the cash gift anymore. Now the burden is on me how to disclose this to the two old women, such that it doesn't add to their disappointments. I have yet to muster such courage, as in the past, when I disclosed reasons for delays in their pensions that broke their hearts.

In their e-mail reply to my queries, they embedded a Press Release dated November 11, 2009, the text of which are as follows: 

Old-age pensioners of the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) whose pension benefits have been suspended are reminded to renew their active status each year during their birth month. This is in order for them to continue receiving their monthly pension and to qualify them for other possible benefits, which include annual Christmas cash gift and the pension increase.

If a pensioner is under a suspended status at the time that the GSIS declares a cash gift and pension increase, the pensioner will not be eligible to receive such benefits. This is based on an existing GSIS policy which has been around for 35 years, and which provides that only old-age pensioners who are in active status are entitled to cash gifts and pension increases.
Said release went on to quote this  specific policy provision:

"Pension adjustments or cash gifts should not be given to pensioners under suspended status because of their failure to comply with the condition imposed by the GSIS for their continuous receipt of the monthly pensions, that is, the annual renewal of active status."

I am not a legal mind, and neither am I in a position to argue against this policy. I am, however, wont to question the logic behind the policy interpretation that came in the form of an 11 November 2009 Press Release that was never really circulated. For failing to renew on their birth months, old-age pensioners, all of them already in varying states of physical health, will no longer receive this meager sum that is due them. But what about those who have renewed a bit later, because maybe, they simply forgot (remember these are old people); or because they have no one to accompany them to the kiosks? What about my mother and aunt who both renewed barely one or two weeks shy of their respective birth months because they knew that would suffice for their 2009 renewal? What about those who, like my mother and aunt, were simply not aware of this Press Release? There could be a host of reasons for failing to renew one's active status. At times, reasons can even emanate from the agency itself -- bogged down kiosks, or  an obviously questionable system for  informing/giving updates to pensioners  already wanting assessment?

This  provision may be around for three and a half decades but it lost its rational basis, because it was interpreted in a manner that automatically excluded others for simply failing to renew on their birth months. There is no logic to forfeiting the old-aged pensioners' cash gifts and pension increases, especially if they already took pains to comply. Isn't it  enough sanction to have these benefits temporarily suspended until such time they have renewed?

I wonder what measures the agency undertakes to review its logs of complaints, and cull insights from those cases? This is so that policies, guidelines, procedures are periodically revisited, revised, enhanced and the agency's communication strategies tweaked to the needs of old people. I hope that the agency does not get stuck in a system that is both confusing and excluding.

I still do not have the heart to break this news to my old ones.