Thursday, November 5, 2015

The 2015 NBW Blog Event: Filipino Librarians and Their Reading Habits

Hey Jude! A book is a gift of friendship.
This write up is part of the  2015 NBW Blog Event aimed at celebrating and drumming up the 81st National Book Week happening on November 24-30, 2015. With the theme, the Filipino Reader in the Era of ASEAN Integration, guest bloggers write, share and ruminate on being a Filipino librarian and reader in this age of ASEAN Integration.

Today is my turn to write on the topic Filipino Librarians and Their Reading Habits. I am coming from a personal experience of reading as compared to Jing Hernandez's piece which shows a bigger picture on the topic. In her blog article, she describes the result of her mini-survey on what and why Filipino librarians read. Allow me now to focus on the personal impact of reading and how a book can develop and grow a friendship.

Two weeks ago I met Jude Gorospe at the FUSION 2015 Conference in Southville International School and Colleges. He had been on hiatus. Being in the FUSION 2015 Conference was his first public appearance as a resource speaker. At the conference, he talked about web based library services and best practices. It was good seeing Jude back in action. While we know each other in the profession, given that ours is a small one, we didn't really click immediately. But the mutual respect is palpable.

I admire him for his steadfast leadership and systematic way of thinking. Such qualities are evident in his decade long assignment as Miriam College's Head Librarian in the High School department and former president of PASLI.  He had his fill of activities in the PLAI National Book Week celebrations in the past years and it involved rounding up people and events all together. He has invited me as resource speaker and storyteller in many school librarian related functions. For this, I am grateful and humbled.

In August 2013, we attended the International Association of School Libraries (IASL) Conference in Bali, Indonesia. He was a paper presenter. I was there as workshop facilitator. Amazingly, our trips going there to Bali and back to Manila are the same schedule and flight. Conversing with Jude was like talking to a long lost brother. This former PASLI president is full of stories about his family and work life. His thoughts always wandered to his kids and wife during lull sessions in the conference. He is also a wonderer. Curious of new experiences and eager to partake in conversations with colleagues in the school librarianship network. He is a solid EdTech guy. He was on fanboy mode when we met Blanche Wools in the IASL Session on Guided Inquiry.

During our brief stay in Bali, I learned about the well-being collection he set up in the library. This was a perfect example of a Bibliotherapy Collection. Thus, I used it for my workshop. I also learned about his interest in pastoral care and how he used a book to help a colleague bounce back to life. That colleague survived the life crisis and went back to him, thanking him for recommending the book since it helped in the healing process. He told me about Leo Buscaglia's book, Living, Loving & Learning (Fawcett Columbine, 1982) and how this book made a dent in his life. Sadly, I am not in the position to tell. Perhaps I can invite Jude to write about it one of these days. Who knows? If his spirit is ready to share, then we are privileged to listen and respect his story.

To my surprise, Jude gave me his favorite book, the book that made a difference in his life, during the FUSION 2015 Conference. The context is that, I accepted an on-the-spot speaking engagement which he missed for some reason or another. Giving the book to me was his way of saying thank you. How precious! As a book lover, I know what it feels like to part with one's favorite book.

Upon reaching home, I opened the book randomly and in a page I read this:

 The paragraph spoke to me in volumes at a time when I am reflecting on how to take care of myself and my relationships. I think about love, friendship, couplehood and marriage, family life and communities. I wonder what Jude saw and experienced reading the book. I will read the book and I will definitely go back to Jude to tell him my experience of it. By doing so, his and my reading experience of the same book is enriched. We shall come out of the experience as richer persons. I now see Jude, not just a curios and thinking librarian but also as a friend who listens and reaches out, unselfishly sharing his talents and skills for others.

Books bring people together.

Reading amplifies this togetherness.

I think this is the call of the time. In the era of ASEAN Integration, librarians must come together to share common experiences and continuously learn from each other.

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