Thursday, August 30, 2012

My Life as a Librarian (1 of 3)

I have so many blog posts on draft (from Eric Ramos to the 2nd ReaderCon, and the post on good education to book reviews) but I'm squeezing this in for students of St. Louis University Baguio. Two Library and Information Science (LIS) students sent me a PM over FB for an interview they would need for a LIS course requirement. They are under the mentorship of Ms. Marilou Pasion for LIS 111.

I did not ask any more details from the students. As a school librarian, it is my personal belief to always give the young people I work with reasons to hope. So here goes the first set from Ms. Doreen Calion Ramos. 

1. What did you contribute in the field of librarianship? 
I have a license so I'm a number in the statistic of licensed librarians in the country. I try my best to stay true to the oath I took eighteen years ago. 
2. What is your concern being a librarian? 
My concerns, as I write this, would be the great divide that exist between those who have access to books and information and those who have none at all; the slump in book readership and book awareness in the country today; the dearth of Filipino reading materials online and in print formats; the scarcity of qualified librarians to run functional libraries.
3. What is your vision as a librarian? 
For me, a library provides physical, virtual and intellectual structures for information and knowledge to be accessed, created and communicated. The librarian is the conduit that integrates and bridges these structures to a community so that members of the community are able to understand the systems involved in knowledge creation thereby developing a culture of lifelong learning. 
4. What can you say about the "paperless society"? Do you agree or disagree. 
I do not believe in a paperless society. But I recognize the emergence of technology that does not use paper at all. 
I throw back a question: What is a paperless society, in the first place? A society that does not use paper? But we use paper and its by-products everyday.  
If we are talking about the paperless society in the context of library services, I say we still need paper for some library functions and we don't need paper at all in number of library tasks. In my library, we do not have a card catalog but I still use a p-slip. That's just one example to prove a point.
5. Are you fulfilled and contented in your field of work? 
Yes. Some people have told me I am very passionate about my work. But you see, my work is my mission.

Tomorrow, I will post answers to questions sent in by Mr. Greg Egipto Padua III.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Filipino Friday: Celebrating the Best

Celebrating the Best In honor of the first Filipino Readers’ Choice Awards, let’s talk about our favorites for this year. What are your favorite books in 2012 so far? Have you read any awesome Filipino books in the year? If yes, make sure to include them in your list!

And so we come to the last Filipino Friday meme. This one made me go back to my reading list at the start of the year. And, yes. It took me several days to complete this post. What with the long weekend with family and a MacBook accident (, blogging had to take a back seat.

My finished reading list for 2012, so far --

1. The Best of Chico and Delamar's Top Ten
2. Serendipity Market by Penny Blubaugh
3. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
4. Looking for Alaska by John Green
5. Habibi by Craig Thompson
6. The Kite Runner : Graphic Novel by Khaled Hosseini, illustrations by Fabio Celoni and Mirka Andolfo
7. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Vols. 1 and 2 by Alan Moore
8. The Mythology Class by Arnold Arre
9. Looking Back Vols. 1,2 and 3 by Ambeth Ocampo
10. Blood and Flowers by Penny Blubaugh
11.  The Game of Thrones Book 1 and 2 GRR Martin
12. The Case of the Book by Robert Darnton
13. Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
14. This Book is Overdue by Marilyn Johnson
15. The Amulet of Samarkand (Graphic Novel) by Jonathan Stroud
16. No Easy Answers: Short stories about teenagers making tough choices
17. A New Culture of Learning by Thomas Douglas
18. Positive Discipline: A Teacher's A-Z Guide
19. A History of Reading by Alberto Manguel
20.  The Element by Ken Robinson
21. Fifty Shades of Grey Trilogy (ebook format)

Not bad. Twenty one titles in eight months.

However, this reading inventory shows I have not read any Tagalog book yet. Shame. So, here's my penance: read Bebang Siy's Its a Mens World.

Speaking of which, here's a big congratulations to Ms. Siy and Anvil for their book which won an award in the Filipino Readers' Choice, Essay Anthology category, last August 18, 2012. For the full list of winners, check Blooey Singson's blog. Hats off to the organizers of the 1st Filipino Readers Choice Award and the 2nd Filipino ReaderCon namely, the Filipino Book Bloggers, the Filipinas Heritage Library and the National Book Development Board. The event was a roaring success!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

PPT for Panel: Reading Everywhere: Scanning the Reading Environment

Live Blogging: United We Read the 2nd Filipno ReaderCon

The 2nd Filipino ReaderCon kicks off with an opening message by Atty. Andrea Pasion-Flores, Executive Director of the National Book Development Bord (Philippine). The breakout sessions will follow after.

Here are the questions I'm tasked to answer in the panel Reading Everywhere: Scanning the Reading Environment.

What made you decide to open up a bookstore/be a librarian?
My mother decided for me. I wanted to major in English (I wished to improve my grammar) at the PNU but she intervened by telling me that librarians are in demand in the job market. Afraid to end up unemployed, I heeded her advice so, here I am today. No regrets. Good thing I grew up reading. That’s’s reason enough to be a librarian in this day and age.

Do you think your store/library addresses a gap in providing books to Filipino readers? If so, what gap does it fill?
I want to answer this question by first presenting library concepts.  What is your concept of a library?

Library concepts to discuss: a library is culture;  a library is a community; library is a structure; a library is a system or an integration of systems. Libraries bring communities together to celebrate book awareness and the reading culture. In the process, structures that promote physical access, intellectual access and virtual access to information, ideas and knowledge are made possible. The system of knowledge creation and communication is perpetuated through solid and appropriate library services and programs.

              In real life, librarians struggle to create services and programs geared to reading and book promotion that are financially viable. “KEVIN COSTNER ang mag manage ng library reading programs and services”. But there are successful library stories to share:
a. ADMU’s Rizal Library - Book Bench
b. Book Mobile Projects of Museo Pambata & DLSZ
c. Classroom Library / Read-athon of SAS
d. DepEd’s Library Hub
e. School libraries with graphic novel collections, bookfair events, literacy and literary activities, and instructional programs
f. Annual celebration of National Library and Information Services Month by the NLP and PLAI
g. Librarian groups dedicated to reading promotion and literacy development - BookTalk Society of the Philippines, CLAPI, PASLI
h. NGOs involved in library development (Book Bridge and Sambat Trust)
i. Run for your Libs
j. UP LibRadio

             Despite the odds, these library initiatives that promote book awareness and reading culture continue.

Based on your book selling/library experience, how would you characterize the Filipino reader?

            Librarians go by the principle: Every book a reader. Every reader a book.

Do you think brick-and-mortar bookstores and physical libraries are still relevant in this day and age? If so, in what way?
           Yes. There are different kinds of readers and learners acquire information and knowledge in a variety of styles using not one but many modalities. There are readers and learners who are more confident reading and learning in the digital environment, but there are also those who perform better in traditional environments. Libraries need to address both virtual and physical learning spaces for ALL its readers. Reading is a right and libraries are venues where that right is exercised.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Reading Everywhere: Scanning the Reading Environment

The 2nd Filipino ReaderCon is tomorrow! Hoping to meet many librarians at the Filipinas Heritage Library.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Jose Aruego (1932-2012)

I do not know Jose Aruego personally. I envy the PBBY originals since they had the luck and the opportunity to meet him, had dinner with him and had conversations with him on books, art and (I suppose) the future of Philippine Children's Literature.
Jose Aruego is part of my reading childhood. I read his book, Juan and the Asuangs, when I was only a girl of eight. I was surprised at myself that I could read with ease this story about a Filipino boy in a Filipino barrio at a time when I was fed with stories of a cat in a stupid top hat, tales of brown hen and red foxes. At work, I never did go wrong recommending an Aruego book, written or illustrated by him, to a preschool teacher; a mother of toddlers; an adult reader who wants to rediscover the lost wonderment of childhood.

His works are all enjoyable, playful reads be it in text or in pictures. I retreat into a secure and familiar space when I read an Aruego. When I share his books to others, it is such a great joy!

Here's a link to the video of Lizard's Song, a read aloud I did for World Read Aloud Day last March 2012.

Thank you, Mr. Aruego! Give my regards to Mr. Sendak!

Picture source:

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Library Bulletin Board: Start of School

This is how the library bulletin board looks like at our school. There's a low sofa below it where students were seated at the time I took the photo thus, the big head room at the top.

Anyways, I wanted to drum up the idea of a library for all but with respect for everyone using the library, including the staff, of course. So the left frame says it all: The library is a shared space. Students are free to write on the thought bubbles.

The middle frame is a cloud tag of  the school community's principles, belief's and ethos.

The right frame has the library's motto: A learning community reads. A reading community learns. Featured for this month is a book review of one of the students in grade 12 on Dianne Wynn Jones' book, Howl's Moving Castle. It's a review that connects the book with the animated movie by Hayao Miyazaki. Every month, the library will post reviews and recommended reads from the community.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Filipino Friday: Books and Friends

Books and Friends: Are you a part of a book club? If yes, what made you join one? What’s your favorite activity that you have with them? If you’re not a part of one, will you consider joining one? Why or why not?

This Friday meme topic is all about books and friends. This is such a wonderful topic to write about. I am more excited to share this meme with the rest of the bloggers involved in Filipino Friday because, books and friends have made Filipino Friday possible. We may not know each other personally, but the meme has connected us in more ways than one through books and reading. Yes, we all are avid readers and book lovers. The window to friendship, if not, goodwill and mutual respect, is very much open. That's why, this meme reminds me of books I love and fond memories of friendship.

When I was in sixth grade, I read the Hardy Boys series and its female counterpart, Nancy Drew. I read Encyclopedia Brown and the Bobsey Twins. My seatmate in class, Amado Bonifacio Alto, happened to have read the same series, except for Nancy Drew and Bobsey Twins. He also read poetry. How "geekily" cool is that?! I was even surprised how he knew about science books and encyclopedias.  Our reading fodder was textbooks. Our trips to the school library was close to null. I read because my mom brought home books. So, to discover another soul with the same reading insterest as mine was a delight. I was not alone in my strangeness.

JK Rowling's letter and autographed photo. Collector's item, I say!
In high school, I was friends with readers. We were a group of four but we all belonged to one big barkada of six to eight girls. We read romance books from Sweet Dreams series to Sweet Valley High to Harlequin Romance series. Even the Pinoy romance books were part of our book exchanges: Gilda Olvidado, Helen Meriz, Nerisa Cabral, up to Liwayway's Laro sa Baga. Yes, that was my introduction to Pinoy erotica. Our tastes gradually expanded to foreign titles. I shared with my high school classmates the Newberry winners, Judy Blume, SE Hinton and Katherine Patterson. By fourth year high school, we got hooked on Erich Segal's Love Story, Jonathan Livingstone Seagull, The Little Prince to name a few. Among friends who read, I felt I belonged.

I am a reader. I am not alone.

Looking back, I wish we had more opportunities to read books in different genre and formats. I wished we had an adult reader to guide us. I regret not reading enough non-fiction, essays and poetry during high school. Freshman year in college surprised me with reading lists in the different content areas. I was in a shock. I recovered by finding solace and comfort in between the shelves and stacks of books at the Philippine Normal University Library. I kept up but missed my high school reading buddies. In time, I discovered dead writers make good friends too. Jane Austen wrote classy chic lit. Emily Dickinson's lyric poetry is so emo. Nick Joaquin knew early on that magic and reality can exist in one plane. No wonder I love JK Rowling so much.

So, to answer the question, I did not belong to any book club when I was in high school and in college. But, I reiterate, my friends during those precocious years were readers too.

My friend, Mona Dy. She will kill me for posting this. LOL
As far as this meme is concerned, I am glad to have done 1) moderation of a book club in school and 2) being a good friend to a voracious reader, Mona Dy, who gives me books as gifts once or twice a year.

Moderating a book club of young boys had been memorable since one activity we did was to write JK Rowling a letter. She replied. Well, her publisher, Scholastic made that possible. My friend Mona, to this day is a reading companion whom I share books I've read over coffee and long conversations about life in general. There are literacy groups I hold dear to my heart as well, namely, PBBY, KUTING and the LitCritters. The people in these groups are writers and literacy advocates whose  passion for reading have gone beyond book swapping and exchanges of reading adventures. I continuously learn a lot from them.

There's a long list of NGOs out there that set up libraries and reading centers all over the islands. Behind these NGOs are book lovers and readers who wish to share the gifts of literacy. I think the challenge for all book lovers and book clubs is this: to influence and inspire others who are outside their bubble to read. In a country like ours, where public libraries are challenged institutions, book clubs can bridge the gap between the readers who have limited access to books.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Another School Library Grows in Tanauan, Batangas

Sambat Trust and Trapiche Elementary School will open the newly built library in the school located at Brgy. Trapiche, Tanauan Batangas on Saturday, August 11, 2012.

It is the seventh school library in Tanauan that  Sambat Trust helped establish.

Guest for the opening is multiawarded author, Mr. Russell Molina. He will be joined by Mr. Gerard Hidalgo and Mr. Ark Buenaobra, true blue Tanauenos, in the ribbon cutting that will follow after Mr. Molina's inspirational message to children, parents and teachers of Trapiche Elementary School.

Thank you to all donors, sponsors and supporters of Sambat Trust's school library project!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Philippine Horror Stories for Young Adults

The team up of Kenneth Yu and Dean Alfar is at it again! They've come up with a horror anthology for young adult readers. While waiting for more promo materials and the book itself, here's an interview I had with Kyu about the anthology.

Zarah G:  Why a YA antho? And why horror, of all literary genres!

Kyu: We felt YA was an underserved market ready for its own stories and to be its own segment when serving readers. Though my original publication, Philippine Genre Stories (PGS), has a market that does fall under YA, it does not exclusively serve just that market. Dean's Philippine Speculative Fiction annuals are primarily aimed at adults, though it is open to the well-written YA submission. Our new series will be serving the YA market, to be an anthology for YA readers for this genre (though of course, if you're no longer a young adult but want to read YA stories, we're okay with that). As for why "horror", we thought it would be a good genre to start with, and if all goes well, we are hoping to have other YA anthologies for other genres.

ZG: What is the most challenging aspect you experienced in making the antho? Pls. substantiate your answer.

Kyu: We were very aware that our call for submissions was very drilled down. With PSF, the call was for speculative fiction stories for all reading levels. With PGS, it was the same: for genre stories also for all reading levels. For Horror: Filipino Fiction For Young Adults, we were calling for only horror stories for a YA reading market, meaning that there must be a YA main character in the story and that the issues dealt with in the story must also be of a YA nature. Our usual contributors were not necessarily YA authors, and we didn't know how many good stories we'd get. I'm happy to report we got a good number. Also, whenever there is editorial collaboration, there is always the possibility of clashing with each other's poetics or aesthetics. But our overlap (what makes a good story) and our differences (what makes a story work for us as individuals) created a good collaboration where we learned from each other.

ZG: What will readers discover when they read the antho?

Kyu: We're hoping that readers will find this anthology to be a good selection of tales that explore YA issues via the horror genre. We specifically stated some of these in our call for submissions: coming of age, identity, belonging, a sense of wonder, a love for adventure, angst, concerns over school, challenges of youth, family issues, relationships to authority figures, sexuality, experimentation, peer pressure, bullying, among many others. We were conscious of the issues being addressed in the tales, conscious of the characterization of the YA characters especially. If we're lucky, our readers will either identify with the characters in the stories, or at the least, come to an understanding of them, and perhaps see that human element in their fellow young adults in real life, and develop empathy for them. One could even consider that through these tales, they could take a step outward from themselves and learn more about and respect the "other". From my perspective, developing a new young reader for life would make me happy; from Dean's perspective, expanding a reader's horizons via genre would make him happy.

ZG: What makes this antho different from the ones you released in the past?

Kyu: It's the first anthology that we've ever released that is purely YA, so this is new territory for us. Though we read anything and everything, including YA, we knew that we were treading fresh ground. The PSF anthologies have published their fair share of horror; and PGS as well, which even released a special horror issue. But to go YA exclusively was, for us, unexplored turf. We hope we did well. Another difference, of course, is that this is the first time we are working together as editors, and the partnership worked out quite well. Our previous experience as editors had a huge impact, as roles such as those that fall under managing editor or line editor, fell into place organically.

ZG: Do you have a personal favorite from the collection? Why?

Kyu: Well, yes, we have our favorites, some of which overlap, and some of which don't, but every story matters to us. What is more important is that one of them becomes a reader's favorite!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Tour of Outstanding Libraries: Benchmarking Strategy

Eric Ramos of Adamson University has organized a library tour. Scheduled on August 13, 2012, the librarians who will join the trip have a way of getting in touch with colleagues in the profession. The trip is also a good strategy for benchmarking library services and programs.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Museo Pambata's Mobile Library @ 17

At 1PM today, I'll be at the Museo Pambat to lend an inspirational message to Museo Pambata people who are part of the Mobile Library. The Mobile Library turned 17 years old last month. If not for the bad weather last 21 July, celebration would have pushed through. We wait for better weather, so today 4 August, is the  designated day. This event is a meaningful moment (for me) because my talk is a way for me to go back and give back to Museo Pambata.

Not many know this, but I actually started conducting writing workshops for children at Museo Pambata. It was at Museo Pambata where I joined the finals of the PBBY Storytelling Contest. Long before Salaysayan, PBBY had conducted contests on storytelling. I did not win, but I had a string of invites to tell stories after the Museo Pambata - PBBY gig. This was in the late 90's. Who would have thought I'd be part of PBBY? Who would have thought that I'd continue on telling stories and doing workshops.

Telling stories with the kids who attended the summer workshops @ Museo Pambata (late 90s).

For later, I will talk about the following: reading books and enjoying it makes a whole difference to a growing child; storytelling is a calling, a sharing of self; anyone is a storyteller; preparing for a storytelling.

Will blog more about the activity after! And yes, will post pictures!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Filipino Friday: Reading Habits and Book Formats

Reading Habits and Book Formats
Where and how do you read? Can you read anywhere and everywhere, or do you need a certain place/mood/state of mind to get reading? Do you read more in the morning or at night or any minute that you can? Where and how do you usually read? Are you exclusively for print, or do you go for ebooks more than print? Have you ever tried audiobooks?
 It's Filipino Friday once again! This time, joiners are asked to look at their reading habits. Here's my take.

Reading happens all the time and for different reasons. We read signs to find our way. We read faces of people and their actions to understand unspoken social cues and underlying messages they could not speak of. We read because we're bored. We read to learn. We read to unlearn. We read because we want to impress. We read because we wish to be free.

Reading is part of the four communication art skills. The three being, listening, speaking and writing. All four integrate and are integral to comprehension, knowledge creation and survival. What makes reading a book extra special for me is that, I develop a personal relationship with the author and the creators of the book when I engage in it. Books I've read and loved are friends. Thank you to the team who dreamed of creating and producing such good friends.

So, I really get disappointed for badly created books. Sayang. What would have been a wonderful communion of ideas and experiences would never be. But then again, I remind myself, as a librarian, one tenet of readers' services is "Every book a reader. Every reader a book." And I have to respect and observe that law.

As far as my own reading choices go, I like reading both print and digital formats. I am still loyal to the printed book though, especially because I'm a school librarian and my advocacy is very much immersed in literacy development among young people. While digital natives of this generation can seamlessly operate on technological gadgets to read and learn, they need to develop the basic and fundamental literacy skills (from word recognition and vocabulary, comprehension and context building, study skills to work skills) Reading printed books can do that. These literacy skills are essential in learning more complicated skills and the new literacy - media literacy, digital literacy, information literacy, cultural literacy, family literacy, etc.

What's amazing is, the reading and learning of fundamental literacy skills and new literacy can happen simultaneously. It is thus important that all types of reading formats, genre and kinds are made available for the ardent reader.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Call for Entries: The 2013 Salanga Prize

The 29th NCBD and the 2md Best Reads NCBA have been recently concluded. Another writing season begins for the Salanga Prize 2013.

The Philippine Board on Books for Young People (PBBY) is now accepting entries for the 2013 PBBY-Salanga Prize. The contest is co-sponsored by the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) and The National Library of the Philippines (NLP).
The winner shall receive Twenty-Five Thousand Pesos and a medal. Prizes will be awarded in an appropriate ceremony to be held during the celebration of National Children’s Book Day in July 2013.

2013 marks the 150th birth anniversary of Andres Bonifacio. To commemorate this event, all 2013 PBBY-Salanga entries should be inspired in part or in whole by the life or works of Andres Bonifacio. Prizes will be awarded in an appropriate ceremony to be held during the celebration of National Children’s Book Day in July 2013.

For contest rules, go to the PBBY website.
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