Tuesday, May 31, 2005

The Filipina In Philippine Children's Literature

buhok lola
Originally uploaded by sumatra_woman.
I am still into the swing of things for the Yan Ang Pinay Campaign. While I have written my piece in The Coffee Goddess on being a Filipina, I was moved to look over my own picture book and story book collection for titles that reflect a positive image of the Filipina. Among the many titles I browsed through last night, Ang Pambihirang Buhok ni Lola by Rene Villanueva struck me as the most fitting to feature for the month of June.

Friday, May 27, 2005

The Things We Do In Summer

It is inevitable for my co-teachers, well meaning as they are, to ask what we, school librarians, do in the summer. That perennial question was dished out to me one day and I felt it coming. It seems that teachers are always “wondering” at the work we do. Teachers have the impression that school librarians must be the luckiest people in school. School librarians do light, clerical and stress free work.

Sigh. Yeah, right.

This time around, a rookie teacher was brazen enough to ask what a school librarian can possibly be busy with during summer work in school. I would have wanted to humor this rookie teacher. I wanted to say, “Oh, we do nothing. We count the books and surf the Internet all day from Monday to Friday.” But I told myself, “You’re a senior faculty of the school. Take the question seriously.”


So I replied, “Librarians are busy with inventory work and evaluation of school library services and programs.”

The rookie teacher looked clueless. To rescue the poor young thing, I said “We’ll be teaming up soon for curriculum planning. We’ll have a nice chat about our programs and services. Then you’ll realize, we can be very good friends!”

The teacher nodded and said, “Oh, ok.”

Librarians and teachers collaborating is a rare phenomenon in schools, particularly in the Philippines. The work we do in the summer is a preparation for the coming school year. And it will have meaning to teachers when information about the inventory work is articulated during team meetings and curriculum planning with the different departments. Information from inventory work goes beyond numbers, losses and discarded books in the collection. From inventory reports, librarians can draw out conclusions on the utility of resources by its clients. It is also a tool to evaluate the existing collection. It has a great impact on readers’ services particularly the circulation of resources in a given school year.

At times like this, I am reminded to take inventory work farther than the four corners of the library. The technical work librarians do does not end in completing the task itself. Thinking of how clients will benefit from the information culled out of all the technical work makes a difference.

Only then can the question change.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Battle of the Books

It's a never ending battle of two schools of thought. Books vs. Digital Resources. Taken from the New York Times, here is something worth our reading time.

College Libraries Set Aside Books In A Digital Age by Ralph Blumenthal. New York Times. May 14, 2005.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

FYI - Further Changes

Beginning June, School Librarian In Action will focus on special topics of interests every week. These topics are of special interests to school librarians in the Philippines and abroad; those working in school libraries, and basic education schools. Week one will feature Books and Reading Advocacy; Week two will be about Instructional Technology; Week three will focus on Children's and Young Adult Services; and Week four will be allocated for trends, updates, news, issues and views on school librarianship in particular, and Philippine Librarianship in general.

If you know of a library success story, please do not hesitate to email me or leave a comment in my posts. Any good news about librarianship is likewise welcome.

(The inpsirational residues of the iblog summit remains in my system.)

Friday, May 13, 2005

Bridge Under Construction

To continue...

6. Have a teacher talk about his/her favorite book, movie or play.
Invite a teacher who can give a book talk. Schedule this in such a way that both students and guest teacher are available. Choose from different departments. English teachers are not the only ones who read. For children to meet teachers endorsing and talking about their favorite book is a big deal particularly in the primary grades. Also encourage other kind of print materials to showcase like graphic novels, comic books, magazines, etc.

7. Set up a BLOG for the library geared to attracting more readers to learn and use the library.
BLOG your library. It's easier than constructing a website.

8. Highlight a review done by students, teachers or parents.
Avid readers usually have a thing or two to tell you about the book they have read or borrowed. Solicit their views and publish them for others to read. It attracts interest and public opinion. This way, the school library indirectly builds a READING CULTURE for the community.

9. Cook up book showers and book fairs.
A staple for all school libraries and a wonderful way to build the collection. An annual fair or shower is ideal since months of preparation is needed for such endeavors. Involve the whole library staff and other departments. Invite school administrators to open the fair or cut ribbons for exhibits and showers. Look for sponsors for support should logistics be a problem.

10. Be a model.
Need I say more?

These tips are achievable and realistic. Today's school library must be concerned with students' learning. Students are, after all, the school library's primary clients. But to impact student learning and/or achievement, the school librarian should reach in and reach out.

Thursday, May 12, 2005


I'm sorry for the changes I made in my posts. It may have given you confusion. I'm doing this in between days. Sometimes, the heat of writing is too much to bear inside that a release is necessary. Will work on disciplining my "writing heat".

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Building Bridges

In my last post, I drummed on the importance of communictaion skills and strength of character that a school librarian must posses to make the school library a viable learning laboratory - one that is alive, growing and functional. A living school library has better prospects at getting support from the administration and the client it serves. A growing school library contributes to the goals set by it’s mother organization. A functional school library with programs and services geared to the development of its clients can make an impact to student learning.

Student learning . Two words that may sound alien to school librarians. Is it the school librarians' concern? Or teachers alone? You may be nodding your head in agreement that school librarians contribute to student learning. But I'm sure that there is a cloud of mist in your mind right now that it could not visualize this scenario. This implicates that school librarins are teachers too. However, librarians as teachers was a concept not directly taught in the course. And little has grown in (Philippine) school librarianship for the past two decades. If there are improvements and innovations, it is not on the issue of student learning and chidlren's library services.

In the Philippines, only three units is alloted for the study of school libraries. Unless, a student takes cognates on Reading Education, Child Development and Psychology and/or Children's Literature, he/she is not prepared for children's and young adult library services. If there are researches on the discipline, there is no accesisble journal where school librarians can access them.

The school librarian meets a fork in the road, in this case. One leads to the traditional school of thought, while the other takes to a more progressive stand to school library management. And it is the later that demands so much learning and study from the school librarian. But I am hopeful because, there are ways for the school librarian in the Philippines to make a difference - by networking and interfacing with internal and external groups of professionals. This is hard work and one that entails a lot of heart.

Let's take a deep sigh. I'll put aside the bigger problems and focus on more interesting ways to build bridges so we may all be capable of crossing the great divide. Here are "expanded" explanations from my list since the last time I posted about " bridging gaps".

Winning Friends for the School Library (For Students)
1. Organize storytelling programs and author visits.
Storytelling sounds easy. Think again. If you are not a frequent teller, or is still a neophyte on the art, contact storytellers around. Likewise, with authors. I recommend KUTING and ALITAPTAP STORYTELLERS PHILIPPINES. You can also invite teachers who are capable of teling stories. Just make sure that your storytelling sessions and author visit programs are in context to your school's curricular offering.

2. Schedule film viewing sessions.
Check out the available videos or CD's you have in your collecion that children will enjoy. And I mean it as a material for children.

3. Invite resource persons to speak about particular hobbies, arts and crafts. etc.
Parents and institutions are a big help for this activity. Be sure to know the interests of your children users.

4. Conduct literacy trivias and games.
This is an activity that is well loved by kids. Popular books are very in demand. It is also a way to highlight the "unborrowables" and campaign for readership among the young.

5. Feature a READING IDOL. One who really reads.
This may be a teacher, a parent or a celebrity to talk about the books he/she has read. It doesn't mean that the IDOL will guest in your library if logistics are too limited. Bulletin board displays may be enough.

To plan such activities, a knowledeg of how your school sysytem works is an advantage. Proposals must be written and submitted to the proper channels. Summer is the ideal time to plan. Integrate. Collaborate. Be a school librarian in action.

Have a happy day!

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Bridging Gaps

The school library provides information and ideas that are fundamental to functioning successfully in today’s information and knowledge-based society. The school library equips students with life-long learning skills and develops the imagination, enabling them to live as responsible citizens.

The UNESCO/IFLA School Library Manifesto

The role and purpose of the school library, as articulated in the UNESCO/IFLA Manifesto, poses a great challenge to all librarians in general, and Filipino school librarians in particular. Librarians are faced with ever changing issues and developments in the social, technological and economic landscapes. And if you're a librarian in a third world country, the challenges never cease.

How then can a school librarian cope? Or even survive? Von Totanes offers insight on the leadership skills that must rest in a librarian's little brave heart. To overcome obstacles on the librarian's path in the quest to fulfill this role and purpose, librarians must be equipped with communication skills - the ability to understand and talk the language of clients, both internal and external. This premise has implications in the macro environment of Philippine librarianship, one of which is the training provided for students of library science. Are colleges and universities offering Library Science courses preparing students with the skills necessary to compete and contribute in this ever changing environment?

Then there is the micro level. In school libraries, how many school librarians can break the mould? Are they willing to welcome a new school of thought, that library service doesn't end with the organization and maintenance of books and AV materials? Are school librarians unafraid to learn, relearn and unlearn? Living up to the role and purpose is not an easy task. It is in fact, risky. But if a school librarian is unable to interface and interact with clients, no matter how well equipped the library is in high tech facilities, what is the library for?

Aside from communication skills, today's librarian must have the strength of character to bridge the gaps and break barriers.

On a lighter note, here are strategies for the school librarian who is courageous enough to bridge gaps. I hope that you will be able to reach out to your clients. In the process, discover how instrumental we are in literacy development and nation building.

Winning Friends for the School Library (For Students)
1. Organize storytelling programs and author visits.
2. Schedule film viewing sessions.
3. Invite resource persons to speak about particular hobbies, arts and crafts. etc.
4. Conduct literacy trivias and games.
5. Feature a READING IDOL. One who really reads.
6. Have a teacher talk about his/her favorite book, movie or play.
7. Set up a BLOG for the library geared to attracting more readers to learn and use the library.
8. Highlight a review done by students, teachers or parents.
9. Cook up book showers and book fairs.
10. Be a model.

These strategies can be effectively implemented if the school librarian is aware of the library's role; can communicate ideas and create them; willing to make mistake and inevitably, LEARN from the whole experience.

Have a good day!

Sunday, May 8, 2005

Mothers' Day

I have many things to thank my mother for, but one of these would be her unrelenting vocational advice given at a time when I was so lost. Like your typical young adult, I never appreciated it. And like your typical Filipino young adult, I submitted.

I never wanted to be a school librarian. I dreamt of being a teacher or a writer. But mothers know best, as they say. My mother probably had a vision of how the profession would be taking shape in the future. She was, after all, a librarian herself. Or, she really knew me inside out that a career in librarianship would lead me to the two things I love – teaching and writing.

So far, in my ten years as a school librarian, I had the opportunity to be both a teacher and a writer. I found how useful teaching and writing can be with in the context of library work. Teaching is my vehicle to reach out to children and teachers, my primary clients. Writing empowers me to continue the advocacy for a more progressive school library services and the promotion of a reading culture among the young and the growing. This mother’s day I pay tribute to my mom, who, despite her flaws and eccentricities, brings out the best in me.

I give the same reverence to two librarians in the discipline who are both mothers too, Dir. Lou David of the Rizal Library, Ateneo De Manila University and Dr. Mary Orendain of the Philippine Normal University. To me, they will forever be my “professional mothers” who helped me grow my own wings. They may not know it, but they are both instrumental in firming up my belief that librarians can bridge gaps and break barriers. They walked into my life (on separate occasions, though) at a time when I was desperately looking for role models in the discipline.

Come to think of it, there are a good number of mother-daughter librarians in Philippine Librarianship. It is a small circle. Let me count.
There is Petite Capitin-Geronimo of ADB, whose mother is a retired librarian. Her mom, if I am not mistaken, worked for the National Library for a good number of years. Then there is Mikee Soriano of Ateneo Grade School, daughter of Lou Soriano, PLAP President. Audrey Anday of UP Open University is daughter to Vilma Anday of UP Los Banos. If I may push the family tree a little bit further, Joy Nera from Assumption San Lorenzo is daughter in law of Cora Nera, one of the most fashionable librarians in the Philippines today.

Five pairs. Not bad. Should my reader want more of this trivia, I refer Mr. Dante Perez for more. He has a penchant for remembering facts and figures when it comes to Philippine Librarianship in general.
To end this post, allow me to recommend three titles of picture-story books that both mother and child will enjoy. After the day’s celebration, end it with a comforting personal or fictional story that would remind the reader and listener the enduring qualities of a mother’s love.

Munsch, Robert. Love you forever. Canada : Firelfy Book, 1986.
A touching story of life’s cycle as seen through a mother’s perspective. Sheila McGraw illuminates the lasting relationship of a mother to her son with her illustrations. A perfect bedtime story that encourages the adult reader to sing the story’s lullaby to the listening child.

Remigio, Ompong. Papel de Liha. Quezon Ciy : Adarna House, 1996.
A child wonders why her aunt compared her mother’s hands to sand paper. The little girl finds the answer to her question through her mother’s many loving ways. Beth Parrocha-Doctolero illustrated the pictures. Written in Filipino with English translation.

Villanueva, Rene. Ang Makapangyarihang Kyutiks ni Mama. Quezon City : Adarna House, 2002.
What is the similarity between a doctor and a woman who paints finger nails and toe nails for a living? Perhaps nothing. Find out why it is so in this entertaining picture-story book by Rene Villanueva. Ferdinand Guevarra provides cartoonish illustrations using paper sculpture technique and mixed media!

Happy Mother’s Day!

Saturday, May 7, 2005


I'm supposed to do a post about the AUTHOR VISIT project we do in Xavier School but, I was struck by an inspiration to redo my blog. Blame the 1st Philippine Blogging Summit.

As much as I wanted to continue, sleep is calling. Will have the overhauling tomorrow...and more post about the summit.

Friday, May 6, 2005

Going Global

Xavier School was very fortunate today to have had Dr. Josette T. Biyo , multi- awarded teacher and science research culture advocate. It is not everyday that the faculty and staff would get the chance to listen to a luminary in the field of education and scientific research to talk about life, dreams and making a difference given the bleak situation of the country today. Indeed, Dr. Biyo's stories, her own and her students, are an inspiration to those who were present.

It is an issue of choice and knowing one's self that would set the human spirit rise above the difficulties that one enocunters in a lifetime. Dr. Biyo had her own struggles but her positive attitude and resourcefulness sees her through. She is a true scientist and a classic example of a life long learner. Having mentored students who compete in local, national and international science fairs, Dr. Biyo is a global teacher. She knows her roots as well as the changing environment of her country. This makes her contribution to the global arena stand out. It is no wonder that MIT named a planet after her when she presented a paper in the INTEL Science Fair in 2002.

In a smaller venue, she had a talk among Xavier Science teachers. She gives importance to mentoring, teaching the reseach process in an unhurried fashion, one that guides students to the whole process so they may enjoy and learn from it as well. Her passion for reading and an intelligent utility of library tools and resources is worthy of emulation.

After presenting the examples of research proposals done by her 2nd year high school students, I realized how ambitious our Information Literacy Skills Program is in Xavier Grade School. This encounter further inspires me to look into revising the existing program. To do this would be a struggle. Then again, doing nothing at all will never take us to the stars or the planets we dream to conquer.

Sunday, May 1, 2005

IASL and Literaturang Tskiting

I've added two links here - IASL and Literaturang Tsikiting.

I am often hounded by questions and clamor for Filipino stories from teachers. And while there exist in the Philippines, a steady stream of books for children being published every year, there is a great need to promote it. The site is actually about Philippine Literature as managed by Ian Casocot. Every month, it features a collection of stories, poetry and essays written by Filipino writers. It was Astrid Tobias, KUTINGpresident, who edited the issue that focused on the works of writers of children's literature. She has selected the works of the best writers in Philippine Children's Literature today. I'm proud to say that most of these writers have visited Xavier School via our AUTHOR VISIT project.

Mae Tobias-Papa, also an award wining writer, did a wonderful job at the design. She is both a KUTING and INK member.

IASL on the other hand is for school librarians. It is a rich source of information for school librarians world wide. There will be a conference in Honkong this July. Carol Kuhlthau, who did a seminal research on Iformation Seeking Strategies, will be there for a workshop.
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