My workshop at the Naga City Public Library last August 27, 2007 was attended by 50 participants from the district. Most of them are teachers in the content area who were given library duties to man the school library. They were expected to multitask and accomplish dual roles, that of a teacher and a school librarian.
The seminar-workshop began with basic school library services. Call it School Library Management 101 for those who were plucked out of their teaching positions to become vanguards of the school library. Useful and practical topics like resource sharing, networking, fund raising, gaining support from administration, parents and the community were also discussed. Issues on manpower, lack of support and high expectations inevitably surfaced, so I tried my best to be encouraging enough. After all, the concerns they enumerated are things I experience too. Money for books and library up keeping will always be problems, but it can be solved through an empowered and well supported library staff.
I met Riko Vinluan, finally, in the flesh. I've met him online and last Monday of that August was our actual "Eye Ball". He is a resourceful and dynamic librarian. He organized the Naga School Librarians Association right after the session. They were able to identify workable action plans for their school libraries. Reading campaigns, networking and articulation of needs to supervisors are some of the few strategies they've identified so far.
Through PBBY and the local government of Naga City, I was witness to the famous Library Hub of the district. Riko has actually taken responsibility on the circulation of books to different hubs. Using the Naga City Library Book Mobile, books for the schools are placed in bins. These bins are given to the school for a time and are returned to the hub for replenishment and book repair. It's a structure that works for them.
I have said it once and I will say it again, if there is no librarian or library personnel for the hubs who can do the monitoring and supervision on the route of books and schools, all resources and efforts may go to waste. Plus, there are reading and library programs that need to be done for the hubs to truly come alive. Entrust such programs and activities to teachers? Their first duty is to teach. The presence of people from the library sector is crucial.
In this case, it appears that provision and access for books are the main agenda. It is a good start, but the recipients of the hub's services have a huge challenge to face - how to continue this working structure or system so that it has an impact on the children's lives.