Friday, July 26, 2019

Interview: A Database of Philippine Children’s Literature

Here is part 2 of my interview on building a database of Philippine Children’s Literature.

7.. What do you think can be improved about children’s picture books in the country?

To answer this question, one has to look at the book industry as an ecosystem and as an enterprise of knowledge creation and management. There are role players and communities that contribute to its growth and development. These are the content creators, the readers, distributors, researchers and educators, stakeholders and policy makers. Each has to play an active role in the improvement of children’s books. There are different agencies and institutions in government and the private sector that are assigned or do specific roles like the PBBY, the NBDB, the Book Development Association of the PH, the DepEd, the National Library of the Philippines, the CCP, NCCA and a host of NGOs. 

If you ask each role player, each agency and institution you will get a different answer. But their answers need to be connected and woven together. Or else, who will read the books? How can content creators continue creating if not for the readers and the system that support their art? For example, if I say that books in the mother tongue as developed in the regions is a potential area of growth, who do you think would be involved in its development and improvements? 

To quote Ramon Sunico, poet and teacher, a book is a dream dreamed by a team. 

How strong is the book development team and the ecosystem to which this team operates in so that it can continuously create?

8. Do you think it’s necessary to create an online database for children’s picture books in the Philippines? Who would it benefit, what are its values? Would it elevate the status of children’s illustration as an art form/create more visibility for it?

Librarians and libraries create databases for a number of reasons  namely, for organization of knowledge, for access to information, for memory and remembering, for posterity, to sustain culture and art, to curate what is valuable to specific groups of thinkers and learners, to strengthen the knowledge infrastructure of specific disciplines.

A database is not the only factor that can elevate the art of a book maker, a writer, an artist and a reader. Also, there are many ways to make art and book making more visible. There is no one solution, really, because art, in general does not grow and develop ina straight line.

9. Should the database actually store .pdf files of the children’s picture books, or should it simply just contain the picture book titles, authors, illustrators, summaries and the places where people can purchase or view the books?

Who are the end users of the database? Consider first the learning community or the group of artists who will benefit from the database. How do they create art? How can their art be preserved, restored and archived? What about copyright and intellectual property? How can he database be sustained?

For all you know, there is already an existing database of children’s books in the country in the

big universities, museums and the National Library. Maybe what we need is a “union” catalog or a centralized database where in, libraries and institutions with databases of children’s books and literature can pool all of these resources in a unified database.

10. Would orgs like CANVAS/PBBY/INK find this database helpful? 11. How can CANVAS/PBBY/INK contribute in the creation of this database?

They can be a part of the development, but a committee or a commission must be the lead agency to do this. Right now, I don’t who can. 

12. Do you have any recommendation/suggestions related to creating a database like this? Is it better to create a directory or database, etc.

I think I have some suggestions already in previous questions.

13. Do you know any other related source material I can look into?

Visit schools, colleges and universities offering Children’s Literature courses. They may have a wealth of research and resources already. All we need is to find and mine it!

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