Saturday, January 31, 2015

Research Season Begins

Last Monday, our school had breakout sessions that focused on research, in general. The grade 9s had a scavenger game at the library. The grade 10s talked with their supervisors on the current progress of their Personal Projects. The grade 11s kicked off their Extended Essay journey and the grade 12s had focused group discussions on the different research and outreach projects they have done so far.

As librarian, my participation involved the preparation of activities for the scavenger hunt. I also explained to this year's grade 9s the mechanics of the game. We did this last year and it had been a success. A good number of the grade 10s this year are more aware of the use of the library OPAC. I often tell myself that if students access library resources through an OPAC until they reach college and later on life as they progress in their academic careers, then I have done my job.

On to the next one.

As Extended Essay Coordinator, I met the grade 11s to facilitate the brainstorming session on their choice of topic for their Extended Essay. We are ending one cohort's journey on the Extended Essay as this new batch begins theirs.

Filipino Librarian of the Month: Willian San Andres Frias

Willian San Andres Frias is in her 20th year of being a librarian. She finished her bachelor’s (1992) and master’s (2002) degrees in Library Science in UP Institute of Library Science, now School of Library and Information Studies. She has worked in several positions in De La Salle University Libraries, namely: periodicals librarian, collection development librarian, technical services coordinator, public programs librarian, assistant director for support services, and currently, head of DLSU’s Law Library. Her strength as a librarian lies in collection management, particularly collection assessment. She has produced close to 30 assessment studies that were instrumental in developing collection development programs of different academic libraries. She has also been invited as resource speaker by PAARL, PLAI-STLRC, PNULISAA, SMEC, and the like. She is now focused in honing her skills in law librarianship and sharing her advocacy, which is sharing collection management skills with fellow librarians.

What's your lib story? Describe how you made the choice of majoring in LIS and what was college life like for you as a LIS major. You can cite challenging stories and success stories while studying the course.
Being a librarian was never an option for me when I was young. In fact, I spent most of my idle time in high school sleeping inside the library instead of doing research and observing how librarians provide service to their students. That's why I got used to the "why's" of my former classmates when I tell them I am a librarian.
I started college in Leyte (Visayas State College of Agriculture, now Visayas State University) taking up Bachelor of Science in Experimental Statistics. But due to health reasons, I was forced to go home to Muntilupa and transferred to UP Diliman, where I was offered three possible courses, Public Administration, Mass Communication and Library Science. A typical promdi that I was, I chose the course which did not entail facing people that much – which is library science.  I planned to shift back to Statistics after a year, which did not happen, because I fell in love with my teachers who treated their students like their own children, my classmates who became life-long friends and my course, which promised a lot of possibilities during that time .  The passing of RA 6966 made my final decision to finish the course and become a librarian.
In college I was just a typical UP student. I joined rallies (anti-US bases was very active then), watched frat wars, engaged in organizational activities, and the like. I was helpful in UPLISSA activities especially in fund-raising activities like selling flowers on Valentines' Day and playing Bingo before Christmas Party. I was not able to join most of the students' activities because I had to go home to Muntinlupa every single day of my student life. Maybe that was why I often used the maximum number of absences per class and was always ready to miss the final exams if my tentative grade would at least be 2.5 - I believed it was enough for me to pass for I do not know what to make use of the rest -aanhin ko pa ang sobra? (This is a self-philosophy which is well-kept from my children). It was also the reason why I was already on my last semester in UP when I enjoyed being a college scholar.
I was a summer graduate of 1992, a semester late in taking the first librarian licensure examination.  Thus, I worked without having a license at first. It only took a referral letter from Dr. Ursula Picache for me to be accepted in De La Salle University as an assistant librarian.  Whatever Dr. Picache wrote in her referral letter must have impressed Ms. Perla Garcia, then the DLSU Library Director, to accept me, even without experience, with not-so-outstanding grades, and dressed with the typical tattered jeans during the interview.
Because I know I have to redeem myself, for Dr. Picache and for the rest of the faculty and staff in ILS, I tried my very best to be a good librarian.

Photo source: P Rex M. Molina
What has been the greatest challenge you've faced so far as a licensed and working librarian? Why do you say it's a challenge? 
I could say that my road to professional career had been smooth. I successfully passed LLE without enrolling for a review class, while master’s degree was handed to me like a silver platter via DLSU’s nomination for a fellowship grant from DOST.
Being an information professional for 20 years, I have been through many challenges – job rotation, being an administrator, program/project/committee headship, etc. But I think it is only now that I am facing the greatest challenge in my career: the shift from being a traditional service-oriented information specialist to a full-fledge research professional.  As DLSU shifts to being a research university, we, DLSU librarians, have to go with the flow – and thread our way towards scholarship by conducting and writing researches.
This is a challenge because we do not just do research overnight. Research is a skill that we hone as days pass by. Added to it, we, librarians, are paid to primarily to do library service and not to conduct researches. Meaning, we have to perform our librarian duties first, and do research after office hours.

What is your area of expertise in LIS? 
I spent about 8 years of my professional career as a collection development librarian. I started as such even when college classes for collection development were still called “Selection and Acquisition”. In fact, I could claim that I am the first full time collection development librarian in the country.  I would say that my expertise (I got goosebumps using the word expertise) is a part of my work as collection development librarian – Collection Assessment.
I love conducting collection assessment. In fact, I have accepted some consultancy and outreach work (with my superior’s blessings, of course) on assessing collection.  Through it, I get to know the collection strengths of the libraries, assess, and gauge their capabilities in providing for the information needs of its clients. Through collection assessment, I get the chance to recommend various strategies in strengthening weak collections, and maintaining the strength of those already strong. And because it involves working with quantitative and qualitative data, collection assessment gives me a chance to get closer to my first love, which is statistics.  

What do you think are the requirements and preparations necessary for becoming a LIS professional? 
Aside from innate service-oriented quality and knowledge in LIS, additional/advanced knowledge in IT should give an LIS professional an edge.  Reading is also a basic requirement, because reading broadens knowledge on the field, and prepares one to tackle what lies ahead.  An LIS professional should also be flexible and willing to reinvent professional self, for there are so many possibilities the profession can offer. Lastly, in the midst of ASEAN integration, an LIS professional should be research-oriented.
What rewards have you reaped from being a LIS professional?
I reap rewards everyday as an LIS professional. The “thank you” of every client, commendations from faculty members, and even just the nod of appreciation of DLSU administrators are the rewards I reap everyday.  
But the more tangible rewards that I reaped were the (1) nomination for fellowship grant which led to earning my master’s degree in 2002, (2) written commendation letters from big bosses which I usually receive once a year; (3) research incentives that I usually receive once a year; (4) attendance to conferences and trainings; and recently, (6) my nomination and election to PAARL office (I am the 2015 PAARL Secretary-elect). I know my good performance as an LIS professional made it possible for me to reap such rewards.

Friday, January 30, 2015

January 30 is National Day of Mourning

by Jon M. Nelson

The rose stands for the family with faith and love for those who serve,
They're held with the highest respect for that's what they deserve.

A yellow ribbon is for the loyalty waiting for those serving abroad,
As we pray that they're watched over and kept close to God.

An inverted glass represents that the fallen can no longer toast,
They cannot be an honored guest or such a gracious host.

A lemon wedge represents the bitter loss of the fallen soldier's life,
That causes so much pain like the sharp edge of a knife.

The salt is put in place for all the loved ones' shedding tears,
For the soldier is no longer present to help calm our fears.

The candle stands tall for the blood that the soldier shed,
It holds a place of honor and represented in red.

The empty chair symbolizes the missing comrade who isn't here,
Now it stands alone for the voice that we can't hear.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

What the Pope Has Shown Me

Back in October 2014, during the Rizal Library's 6th International Conference, Fr. Ben Nebres SJ in his closing keynote challenged the participants of the conference with questions on what libraries can show the world and how librarians are capable of showing it to readers and clients. As I remember it, he talked about technology and our use of a language that is foreign to our context and culture that the purpose and the message for which we create and communicate information becomes unclear. And because he is a Jesuit, he connected this premise to the Papal visit and the current relief operations in Tacloban. It makes a lot of sense but it is difficult to understand everything in one sitting. Just like your typical Jesuit, he left and bestowed points for reflection.

My take away from his closing keynote was, as a librarian, I hold a responsibility to show my community the real and the ideal; that it is my role to help them think through, with care and creativity, which information is worth keeping and worth thrashing away. Isn't this the crux of Information Literacy?

When the Pope spoke about information overload, I connected the dots. Two Jesuits have shown me the way towards my mission as a librarian.

On a personal level, the Pope's visit gave me so much to be grateful for. Once again, I am reminded how important one's personal relationship is with God; that the God we meet in prayer and in the routines of every day is a god who knows how it is to be human. Despite the anit-Pope articles that circulated in social media right after he boarded the plane for Rome, I keep my reverence and respect for Pope Francis because, as I have experienced God in my life, I saw how the Pope would meet his parishioners where they are at. Dissing the prepared speech; being silent and offering one's mere presence; reassuring that Jesus is constant companion in life; embracing the mystery of suffering; falling into vulnerability on questions we could not answer.

So human, yet divine. This is the God I know. This is the God who surprises me.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Librarian as Research Supervisor: On the Personal Project

At the start of the school year in August, I took on the challenging task of a research supervisor.

I coordinate the writing of the Extended Essay of our grade 12s and supervise a grade 10 student on his Personal Project.

My supervisee showing his ebook to a guest at the WIP fair.
Yesterday, my grade 10 supervisee participated in the Work In Progress (WIP) Fair of the Personal Project. Like his batch mates, he was well prepared for it. He had his booth set-up a few days before the fair. His posters and iPad were ready. I watched and listened to him speak to guests and school mates as he explained the goals of his project, the status of his project, the difficulties he experienced and how he was able to overcome them. He looked happy, proud and fulfilled. I expect to see him next week, after the Papal Visit, for a conversation on his experience at the fair.

This is what I enjoy doing the most with my supervisee. The conversations. Listening to him allows me to understand what his thought process is, how he works his way through the research process and how he discovers new insights. I am lucky to have a conscientious supervisee. He adheres to the schedule and diligently works on task assigned to him on a regular basis. My role has really been a guide and cheer leader for him as he journey on the path of the Personal Project.

I think what helped him accomplish a good presentation at the fair, apart from his diligence and discipline, are the following:

a. He picked a topic and project he is genuinely interested in.
b. He has developed a certain level of skill in crafting questions.
c. He listens.
d. He follows through.
e. He reads.

I check his online journal once a month and I am amazed at how honest his insights and reflections are. He still needs to work on his information literacy skills as well as his thinking skills (reasoning, logic, supporting a claim). This is the point of the whole exercise. This is the reason why, high school students need a research supervisor.

And yet, this experience with my grade 10 student has allowed me to grow and learn too. For one, I am taking a great interest on the iBook authoring app. Being a research supervisor makes me revisit old and new ways of servicing young people in the context of library and information science. I am also compelled to write more. This April, I will present a paper in another international conference. Reading and writing skills need to be modeled. If I want my students to respect me as a research supervisor and EE Coordinator, they must see me "walk my talk" I sit back and further reflect on the these things. Yes, competence and cognition are essential to complete a research paper or project. But there is a lot of character building going on in the process.

Friday, January 9, 2015

#griffinsread: Hitler

Student's caption: Some things are better left in the shadows.

Top Ten Borrowed Books of 2014

  • Smile Scholastic / by Telgemeier, Raina.. -- New York Graphix, 2010.  [FIC TEL]
  • Mockingjay / by Collins, Suzanne.. -- New York : Scholastic Press, c2010.  [FIC COL]
  • Catching Fire / by Collins, Suzanne.. -- New York : Scholastic Press, c2009.  [FIC COL]
  • 1984 / by Orwell, George. -- New York : New American Library, 1981.  [FIC ORW]
  • Lara and the gray mare. Vol. 1-4 / by Duey, Kathleen. New York : Dutton Children`s Books, 2005.  [FIC DUE]
  • 2001: A Space Odyssey / by Clarke, Arthur C. (Arthur   Charles),. -- New York : New American Library, c1968. [FIC CLA]
  • Language in thought and action / by Hayakawa, S. I (Samuel Ichiyåe),. -- San Diego : Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1990.  [GC 153.42 HAY]
  • The Perks of being a wallflower / by Chbosky, Stephen New York : Pocket Books, c1999.  [FIC CHB]
  • Feed / by Grant, Mira.. -- New York : Orbit, 2010 [FIC GRA]
  • Saints / by Yang, Gene Luen.. -- New York : First Second, 2013.  [GC 951.035 YAN]

Monday, January 5, 2015

Think Tank Project 2015: Revisiting Goals

Decluttering and decorating helps me think!
This year, I am applying a concept and a process that I have learned in one of our PD (professional development) sessions in school to actual library practice. I am calling this approach as the 2015 Think Tank Project where design thinking is the methodology I will use to plan programs and services for library patrons and users.

Design Thinking is espoused by David and Tom Kelly, authors of the book Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential With In Us All. It is a four cyclical process where participants go through periods of Inspiration, Ideation and Experimentation, Synthesis and Implementation. To strengthen the approach, I am applying Roger von Oech's Creative Whack Pack as strategies to see me through the entire process.

To start, I am looking at the services and programs the library staff has delivered for the first term. Picking out three "take aways" from an informal survey I conducted during in-service training, I will think through and reflect if the "take aways" and the library services and programs agree or adhere to each other. This way, I am able to analyze and explore current practices with insights from library patrons. The patrons I gathered insights from being the teachers.

From here, I write questions to ask myself and my staff. We will do this individually and as a group. These are the questions I have written:

a. How did the library support student research during the 1st term?
b. What helped teachers in facilitating research when they asked assistance from the teacher librarian?
c. What mechanism did the library staff use to inform the community of new resources?
d. How did the community respond to these mechanisms?

This is only the first part, which is Inspiration. Ideas and insight are generated from a context and/or a content. The questions I crafted help me Explore what is current and in front of me. This exploration is like a whack on the head (von Oeck) at seeing what is obvious. Sometimes, we can get answers to questions by looking at the resources we currently have.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Movie Review: English Only, Please

English Only, Please
Director: Dan Villegas
Story and Screenplay: Dan Villegas
Antoinette Jafaone and Anjeli Pessumal

Yes. I jumped on the bandwagon and I was not disappointed at all.

What worked

1. Derek Ramsay and Jennylyn Mercado. It was my first time to see a movie starred by these two actors. I confess, I had no idea how good an actor Jennylyn Mercado is. In the movie, she plays a simple girl but her presence screams star appeal. She lights up the screen like a 24 karat diamond ring. No wonder she's the one chosen as the Starstruck grand winner.

Her portrayal of Tere Madlansacay is very accessible. Tere is your everyday girl and Mercado essayed the role effortlessly. She's your BFF and go-to-girl. She's the loyal and hardworking daughter. She gives, so much, until it hurts.  In the end, she looks at herself and decides she has not given enough. This is her only flaw and one that can be easily forgiven, if not, tolerated at least. I find myself rooting for her to end up with that nice Fil-Am guy, Julian Parker.

Derek Ramsay as Julian Parker, the brooding, angry, broken hearted Fil-Am who went out on a limb to avenge his pride is just WOW. For once, Ramasay's character is not bent on seducing a vulnerable woman. His quiet and tempered portrayal of a man who found love in a hopeless place is way sexier. Like Tere, his only fault is to fall in love and have his heart broken all over again. So I wish the same thing for Julian: to find the girl he deserves.

Since this is a romantic comedy, they did find each other and a chance at happily ever after. Together, Derek and Jennylyn make a formidable couple. So charming is their chemistry that I am praying for a sequel.

EOP FP Page:
2. The script. I like the slow moments in the movie. Good rom-coms have this element. It allows the viewer to listen to conversations and to look at the non-verbal language that transpire between characters. Luckily, the casting director picked the right actors because, Ramsay and Mercado are opposites who are so good to look at. You put two different characters together and you start to understand what the message of the movie is all about. Language is never a barrier between people who truly love each other. Things may be lost in translation, but it is in speaking the truth from the depths of the heart that we find clarity and freedom. Plus, there is enough external and internal tension between the two that kept me through the finish line. That ending where Julian and Tere jumped into the bus leaving for Manila holds a lot of promise for a part two. How much will they give and go for love? What challenges and conflicts will they face in the next stage of their relationship?

Sadly, one of the producers who happen to be a former co-teacher and FB friend confirmed there won't be any sequel.

3. Love and Language. I enjoyed the movie's play on language and how, in some way, it was like an invisible character that brought Julian and Tere together. The scriptwriters are smart in putting in that vocabulary spiels in between scenes. It was humorous and done with enough wit. No crying spells and dramatics. Humor will always save the day. Just when Cai Cortez was about to cry over Jennilyn's lot, she sucks in juice from her balut and with it is an acceptance of things as they are.

The many forms and ways of loving were also depicted with care and humor. Those numerous "Motmot" scenes, single motherhood, family dynamics are springboard conversations about love, sex and relationships that can be taken up with among young people of today.

What did not work

I just wish there were more scenes that showed Derek Ramsay immersing and appreciating the Filipino culture to fully justify his line: Fil-Am ako (or was it laki ako sa US), pero pusong Filipino.

Overall, English Only, Please is a well thought out film. Its actors were well chosen too. At last, here is a movie in this year's Metro Manila Filmfest that doesn't dumb down its paying audience. Thank you to its producers, scriptwriters and director for empowering us to think, to feel and to laugh with you!
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