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Reading and Barangay Libraries

There are actually two stories in "Show kids you read, parents told" by DJ Yap (Philippine Daily Inquirer, 25 October 2005). The first story deals with how parents can encourage their kids to read by reading in front of them. I've said it before and I'll say it again, "the first step is to get people reading—anything—and then, hopefully, they will want to read more." The basis for the story was the four-day conference organized by Sa Aklat Sisikat (SAS) for public school teachers.

The second story involves the "GMA Modular Library program, which will triple the number of barangay libraries from 500 to 1,500 within the next two years." Yap refers to the fact that, "it has been 56 years since a municipal library law was enacted mandating the establishment of 1,000 libraries," but the more relevant law is actually Republic Act No. 7743, which provides for the establishment of "public libraries in every congressional district, city and municipality, and reading centers in every barangay throughout the Philippines." R.A. 7743 was enacted in 1994 and is "a classic example of a law that is good in paper but poor in implementation," according to a press release that quotes Senator Aquilino Pimentel.

Maybe Pimentel's comments did some good, but the inauguration of the GMA Modular Library program is good news, of course. However, I will wait until I see more concrete plans before I start jumping up and down. I am concerned about the fact that the word "librarian" is never mentioned in Yap's article, Pimentel's press release or the press release from the Office of the President. Politicians, contractors, and educators are mentioned prominently in all three, but the name of the one librarian mentioned in the press releases—Prudenciana Cruz, director of the National Library—is misspelled. It looks like these libraries are going to be built without any input from librarians.

Which brings me to the fact that people seem to think that a building with books is already a library. Who will organize the books? Who will train children to look for information using the computers? I'm happy that the government is finally turning its attention to libraries. I can only hope that librarians will be consulted in planning, building and managing these libraries. And maybe someday, librarians will also figure prominently in conferences that seek to promote reading.

Categories: Education, Libraries

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