Sunday, April 24, 2005

on top of all things

I often think about the work school librarians do. Yes, we do the regular stuff. Acquisition. Cataloging. Readers' Servcies. And from where I am standing at, I have the impression that school librarians are fairly comfortable at doing the regular stuff. However, in the light of the changing landscape in the information environment, I often wonder how school librarians have responded to these changes.

For sure, the 11 public schools in QC are responding to the challenges beyond the inner workings of public school politics and the bigger information environment taking shape out there. This of course is possible through the initiatives of school library supporters both with in and outside the country.

While my collegaues and contemporaries are waist deep in the waters of Information Literacy, I take to land once in a while and retrace the basic roots of literacy development. Aside from the IL advocacy, I believe that school librarians should also be as active in its advocacy on reading development. In Xavier School, we employ different strategies to contribute on the reading culture campaign. Storytelling programs and Author Visits are two of the successful activities that can be easily worked upon by any school library.

In line with this, here is an excerpt from a write up about Carla Pacis. She is a writer, professor, friend of the school library and reading advocate. She has been to Xavier School many times to be with children, giving booktalks, workshops and sharing her carft as a writer to chidlren. Carla makes herself available for Author Visits to different schools and libraries.

Dreamer weaves bedtime stories for children
By Candy G. Villanueva, Contributor

THE DREAM started out of sheer boredom. While the rest
of the working population dreamt of promotions and
high salaries in their cozy beds, Carla Pacis worked
the graveyard shift for Citibank's new program,
Citibanking. At a time when telebanking was still
unheard of, Pacis led the pioneering team of the new
system. No doubt a trailblazing project, it would have
been an exciting moment for any bank executive. But
not for Pacis. She was bored out of her wits. She
thought there must be something else she could do. The
nearest thing at hand was a pen and paper.

Education and inspiration
Pacis also wrote several storybooks for Adarna House
including "There's a Snake in the House," "Mayroon
Akong Alagang Puno" and "Hipon and Biya." Dwelling on
values and morals, Pacis' works are not only
entertaining but inspiring as well. "Hipon and Biya"
for instance is a story of friendship and teamwork.

In all of these stories, the writer claims that there
is always a little bit of something in her. "All of
them reflect my life. There is at least an element in
each," she affirms. "You can't avoid using your
experiences. Your story wouldn't count so much if you
didn't use your experience. It is an extension of

Writers as advocates
Seeing how words and pictures can affect a child,
Pacis believes that her purpose does not stop at
writing children's tales. "I feel that writers for
children in the Philippines should not be just
writers. They have to be advocates for reading and
literacy because what is the point of writing if
nobody is going to read it? You just can't be a
writer, you have to be more than that."

Pacis believes that children's literature is not in
the mainstream of the academe yet. According to her,
children's literature has been around for quite awhile
but is still considered as pop culture and marginal.
Although there is still a lot of acceptance required
in the academe, she claims that children's books are
doing better than adult books in terms of publishing
in the country.

As part of her thrust, she also co-founded Kuting
(Kwentista ng mga Chikiting) and several other
movements for reading and literacy in children's
literature. During the summer, she conducts writing
workshops for adults, teenagers and children and
participates in activities and talks that impress the
power of reading.

Adventure and exploration
Presently, she is trying to put together a peers'
award for published children's books that will be
judged by people involved in the industry like
librarians, reading coordinators, writers and
teachers. Her quest does not end there. She wants to
make books as easily available as possible and hopes
to open children's sections in public libraries. In
fact, one of her immediate goals is to set up a
children's section at the Vigan public library where
she traces her roots.

Looking back, she is glad that she only got into
writing after a taste of the corporate life. "In a
way, I'm glad I didn't discover I liked to write early
because I can see it in those who are writing in high
school. They don't really have much to write about and
that is always a problem; I think. At that age, I
think you should be reading more than writing." In the
meantime, she advises budding writers to open
themselves up to opportunities and adventures. "I
would suggest they go out into the world and explore.
Travel if they can afford. Try any job that appeals to
them or they are attracted to, and it doesn't have to
be related to writing. I think writers should really
know what is going on. They should be interested in
many things."

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