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Top Five Stories of 2006

One of the top search engine results for "filipino librarian" early in 2004 was from a society column (cached version):
We continued our cruise, down the Adriatic, enjoying the endless facilities on board, all the fat-free ice cream we could dig into after 10 laps around the promenade deck, passing by the well-packed library where fun Ronnie Espina, the Filipino librarian, always had a big smile.
Maybe I was not looking hard enough then, but I think there's much more that can be said now about Filipino librarians than the little that Maurice Arcache wrote in passing almost two years ago. And so, inspired by "Ten Stories that Shaped 2006" on LISNews, here's my list of the top five stories about Filipino librarians or Philippine libraries in 2006:

5. More Licensed Librarians
The passing rate and number of new licensed librarians went up significantly over 2005 figures. In addition, Steven Cohen (Library Stuff) took note of this and wrote in his influential blog: "I wish they would do this in the US. Reasons forthcoming in my column for Information Today (February 2007 issue)."
4. Start Spreading the News
Librarians stepped out of the shadows and got their names and professions mentioned in newspapers. Aside from fleeting references by columnists like Manuel Quezon III and Connie Veneracion, who thankfully don't write for the society pages (LOL!), there were more substantial articles, too. National Library director Prudenciana Cruz was chosen as one of the outstanding Boholanos around the world, while municipal librarian Che Che Tablico was quoted as a news source in an article that was not about libraries. And then there was the feature story about Maria Lea Vilvar, a blind librarian, that moved Jessamyn West (librarian.net) to write, "There are not nearly enough stories about disabled librarians, considering how large and ubiquitous the profession is and how much we strive to serve disabled patrons."
3. Budget Woes and Politics
The news for government-funded libraries, however, wasn't all good. The Philippine eLib was reported as being in danger of getting shut down. And Miguel Luz, the man behind Library Hub, was forced to resign from the Department of Education. It seems that the initiative is moving forward, but the fact that all we're getting are press releases, instead of updates from the beneficiaries, is not encouraging.
2. Raising the Philippine Flag
Filipino librarians made their presence felt on the international level this year by hosting the biggest event for librarians in Southeast Asia—the 13th General Conference of the Congress of Southeast Asian Librarians (Consal XIII). Representatives were also present at international conferences, including Singapore and Michigan, where two of the four Filipino participants were not LIS graduates. Signs of the times, perhaps?

Among the individual Filipino librarians who merited international attention were Jose Escarilla, who was the featured librarian in the November issue of Information Outlook, and Alicia Esguerra, the first librarian from the Philippines to be named an IFLA/OCLC Fellow.
1. Learning to Blog
But the biggest story of 2006 in my humble, if very biased, opinion was the growth in the number of library-related blogs. Not just individual librarians, but libraries and associations, too. Oh, and Consal XIII had one also. (In case you'd like to search all these blogs—plus static library websites—check out Arnold Zafra's Pinoy Library Search Engine.)

Only time will tell whether these blogs will be religiously maintained. But now that librarians have realized how so much easier it is to update blogs than traditional websites, maybe more Filipinos will be updated regarding what's happening in Philippine libraries this year—because they will have more search engine hits to choose from =)

Category: In the News

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