Monday, November 28, 2005

Book and Library Month (2 of 3) : The Reading Culture

November 26 came to pass. The general assembly of PNULISAA was a succesful one, likewise, the forum that followed it. PNULISAA was fortunate to have Dr. Diljit Singh, from the University of Malaya to speak about Reading in the Age of Technology.

In his talk, Dr. Singh identified indicators to a reading culture. These are; book production, book distribution, book reviews, book preservation and book translations. Given these signs, I can say that the Philippines continues to strive for a reading culture to develop in its people - young and old alike.

I do get informed of book launchings here and there. Almost every month, I get to be invited to at least one book launching. This is a good sign as far as book production is concerned. Add to this are the numerous book awards we have in our country whose winners are highlighted every year. I just do not know the numbers, but it is interesting to find out how well book publishing and the annual sales are doing these days. Ani Almario of Adarna House claims that children's story books are at a steady growth. What of other publications?

I'm not aware of translations, but as far as book reviews go, there are entities who do. There is the Book Talk Society of the Philippines who, as an organization campaigns for reading and recognizes writers from different fields of discipline; SCBWI conducts a monthly review and book talk; PBBY's Neni SR Cruz is a book reviewer who gets published all over; then there are bloggers in abundance who do book reviews.

Now we're left with book distribution and preservation. Public libraries in Manila may be wanting, but the efforts of the librarians who run them are not. I met a couple of them during the course of the Book Month celebration. Their projects and the programs they run are worthy of dissemination. Last Saturday, a few good librarians shared their reading campaign projects in their schools. Sadly, they were all private school librarians.

The reading culture is alive in this country. The signs are there. To make it possible and for a reading culture to manifest fully, we all have to do our part. The responsibility rests in all of us, in every Filipino.

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