Monday, November 16, 2015

The 2015 NBW Blog Event: The Filipino Librarian and Their Library Readers

“Dream big, work hard, stay focused, and surround yourself with good people.”
This write up is part of the  2015 NBW Blog Event aimed at celebrating and drumming up the 81st National Book Week happening on November 24-30, 2015. With the theme, the Filipino Reader in the Era of ASEAN Integration, guest bloggers write, share and ruminate on being a Filipino librarian and reader in this age of ASEAN Integration.

We begin a new topic this week, The Filipino Librarian and their Reading Library Readers. Our guest blogger today is Ms. Rochelle Silverio. In this blog article, she answers the following questions: Who are your readers in the library? Why do they read? What are they reading? How do they Read?

Who are your readers in the library?

Demographically speaking, since I work in an academic library, the students that we serve are mostly in the age range of 16 to 21 years old, residing in the various barangays of Valenzuela City, and are taking different courses which include education, business administration, accounting, public administration, communication studies, engineering, and information technology. On a general sense, these Valenzuelanos are a merry and dynamic mix of young people with diverse backgrounds and interests.

How do librarians get to know their readers? 

There are many ways and one common method is the use of surveys. This year, the Library team conducted a satisfaction survey and we are glad that many are seeing the department’s efforts to support them in their academic run and to provide several programs for both educational and leisure purposes. The survey gave us a glimpse of who they are and what they need in terms of facilities and informational resources. Additionally, we also engage and communicate with students which lead us to learning more about them.

Yet afar from that, one may still ask who are they as readers? 

Thus, I approached several students and asked a few more questions beyond what we typically conduct. And so, I learned that most of them consider themselves as avid readers who enjoy reading and who make time to read. A few are dormant readers who still appreciate reading yet are having difficulty in finding time to read due to the myriad of responsibilities that they have. They all view reading as pleasurable which is a welcoming treat since there is this negative notion that many dislike reading nowadays.

As I have expected, they read materials of varied genres and formats. It is like being sucked in a Literature 101 book (which I’d be happy to be in, by the way).  Their interests span from fiction books to informational resources. Some of these include realistic fiction, fantasy, the classics, comics, factual resources such as the almanac and the newspaper.  Titles? There’s J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, Reader’s Digest, Archie Comics, Trese, Odyssey, Bob Ong’s books, John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars, Sebold’s The Lovely Bones, and Wattpad books like Diary of a Broken Heart. It is also worth mentioning that they read all these other than the mandatory texts in class. They also like to read books in print form while some prefer the e-book format. Language wise, they do not have any issue if the text is in English or Filipino but one of the readers said that she occasionally prefers those written in the Filipino language so that she can “feel” the book better.

And for a bit of twist, I also asked them what books they will bring if they were to stay in an uninhabited island. The Bible tops their list followed by books on survival and fictional books.

How do they read?

Based on their answers, I have to say that a week does not pass without them reading anything. Many of them like to read continuously while some said that they have to stop from time to time, depending on the length of the text they are reading and other tasks they need to complete. One mentioned that he habitually read on evenings, usually before sleeping.

Just as I was interested in knowing the various angles of how these students are as readers, it is also fascinating to understand the whys and wherefores behind the act. Reading always comes with a purpose and we read for various reasons. The students particularly said that they read to learn something new and get more facts which I think is pretty rational now that we live in an information driven world. They also cited that they read to relax and entertain themselves as well as to enhance their reading comprehension and vocabulary. Some also expressed that they read as part of their required activities in class and to study in advance. I share these mentioned beliefs as well (including the last one) which made me see reading on another level. That reading is part and parcel of man’s survival kit.

It is a must for library professionals to know of their readers’ needs and interests as it is among the many bases of how a Library is and should be threading. On a more personal note, you see, readers can also be likened to one’s friends because it is wonderful to keep tab on them time and again. And from what I have just seen, these Valenzuelano readers are doing well.  
At present, Rochelle is the Librarian of the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Valenzuela and is involved with the development of the Valenzuela City Library. She is serving the city’s constituents the best way she can together with a team of very inspiring Valenzuelanos. She also teaches Children and Young Adult Literature at the School of Library and Information Studies, University of the Philippines Diliman. At present, she is taking Ph.D. Reading Education from the College of Education at the same university. You can read more about her eatsploring sprees, musings, and ventures in her home city at the One Valenzuela blog. (link:

Photo Courtesy: Jane Frades

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