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FO: Rizaliana Online


I was invited to talk about "Rizaliana Online" at the Philippine Historical Association's National Conference on Teaching the Rizal Course. I don't have time to share what I said, but I did promise to share the links to the sites I mentioned.

Disclaimer: The inclusion of a website in the list below does not mean that I fully endorse the site and that there are no problems with its content or usability =)

Possible Sources for the Rizal Course

TV5 search: "jose rizal"
e.g., History | #pogiproblems ni Dr. Jose P. Rizal Part (1/3)

ABS-CBN News search: "jose rizal"
e.g., ABS-CBN's Bayani - Jose Rizal: "Sa Aking Mga Kababata"

GMA News and Public Affairs search: "jose rizal"
e.g., Pluma: Si Rizal, ang dakilang manunulat

JoseRizal.ph
Rizal-Blumentritt Friendship
Virtual Travels of Rizal

HathiTrust
e.g., Data papers: International Congress on Rizal (1961)

National Library of the Philippines: Digital Collections
Rizaliana: Manuscripts, Books and other Monographs
e.g., Noli Me Tangere (1887)

The United States and its Territories
e.g., El Filibusterismo (1900)

José Rizal, obras, en lenguas originales
e.g., Noli Me Tangere (1961) (pdf)

Internet Archive
e.g., Sucesos de las islas Filipinas (Morga, 1609),
Sucesos de las islas Filipinas (Rizal, 1890)

Biblioteca Digital Hispanica
e.g., Sucesos de las Islas Filipinas (Retana, 1909)

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Buwan ng Wika 2015


August is Buwan ng Wika (Language Month). This year's theme is "Filipino: Wika ng Pambansang Kaunlaran" (Filipino: Language of National Development). See the banner and calendar of activities below.

But perhaps the most interesting development—for me, anyway—is that Philippine Panorama has devoted most of its latest issue (2 August 2015) to a discussion of different aspects of the national language... in English! It's also interesting to note that while I've seen photos of the cover (see above) on social media, I haven't seen any links to the ePaper, PDF, or any of the articles. So, as a public service, here are the links to the articles:
Language for pleasure, not pressure (Editorial)
Why Filipino is "Filipino" by Virgilio Almario
What about Filipino? by Efren Abueg
New wave by Jacky Lynne A. Oiga
Don’t wince at the smell of rotten fish by AA Patawaran
Who says LIRA Stands for Literatura ni Rio Alma? by Vim Nadera


Click image for more information.


Click image to enlarge.

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Top 5 Free Sources for Filipiniana Online (Books)


"Online research" is supposed to be what lazy students do. Scholars, meanwhile, are expected to travel to different libraries, archives, and museums to consult documents, photographs, and books. This, however, is not necessarily true anymore because more and more resources are becoming available online. In some cases, surfing the web is not only less expensive, but also more productive because researchers can examine texts more closely and are not limited by policies regarding physical access to the materials. Plus, if your university library is closed, but you just need to check one small detail, online research is the most convenient alternative.

The 5 websites enumerated below in alphabetical order are, in my opinion, the best free sources for Filipiniana online at this time. They each have their own strengths and weaknesses, and you'll have to search them all if you want to make sure that a particular title is really not available on any of them, but what's really good about these sites, is that unlike others that only reproduce the texts, you can see for yourself how the text originally appeared on the page, you can cite specific page numbers as if you had the book in front of you, and you can even download the entire book or certain pages (with one exception, which is indicated below).

If you have any suggestions, please send a message or leave a comment via Facebook.


Biblioteca Digital Hispanica (Hispanic Digital Library)
This site is, of course, in Spanish, so if you can't read Spanish, make sure you click on "Welcome" (other languages aside from English are also available) at the top-right corner of the page. Once you're looking at the book, you can download the entire book by clicking on the disk icon on the upper-left corner of the page, next to the book's title. Some of the books available are:
La música popular de Filipinas (Walls, 1892)
Archivo del bibliófilo filipino (Retana, 5 vols., 1895-1905)
Mga tala ng aking buhay at mga ulat ng Katipunan (de Jesus, 1932)

HathiTrust Digital Library
This website was very helpful when I was doing my PhD because it was the only one then that had such a huge collection of downloadable books on the Philippines. Note, however, that many titles are not accessible to all. You'll have to select "Full view only" to limit your search to the ones that are freely available. Also, if you see that a book is downloadable today, don't assume that it will be downloadable tomorrow. So it's probably best if you download a title when you see it. Some of the books I've downloaded in the past are:
The Philippine Islands (Blair and Robertson, 55 vols., 1903-1909)
A history of the Philippines (Barrows, 1905)
A short history of the Philippines (Jernegan, 1905)

Internet Archive
This site doesn't only host the Wayback Machine, it also provides access to a lot of books digitized by different libraries around the world. What's good about it is that you can actually turn the pages by clicking on the left or right pages. Some of the books available are:
Arte de la lengua tagala (Totanes, 1745)
The medicinal plants of the Philippines (Pardo de Tavera, 1901)
Census of the Philippine Islands (1918)
Vols. I | II | III | IV.1 | IV.2 | Appendix to Vol. I

UC Press E-Books Collection, 1982-2004
This site is the only one that provides access to books that are still copyrighted. Not all books, however, are accessible, so you'll have to choose "public access books" to limit your search to the ones that are freely available. Note that books or pages cannot be downloaded, but page numbers are indicated at the end of every "page." Some of the books available are:
Unequal alliance: the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the Philippines (Broad, 1988)
Sugar and the origins of modern Philippine society
(Larkin, 1993)
Muslim rulers and rebels: everyday politics and armed separatism in the southern Philippines (McKenna, 1998)

The United States and its Territories: 1870-1925 (USIT)
I've called this site "the best and largest online collection of Filipiniana materials available for free" before, and in some ways, it is still the best because while its name suggests a larger geographic reach, it is the only one on this list that is almost exclusively made up of Filipiniana. And while most, if not all, its titles also appear in Hathitrust, some titles can only be downloaded on USIT. One big difficulty with this site, however, is that you cannot download entire books. You can only download one page at a time. Some of the books available are:
La imprenta en Filipinas: adiciones y observaciones á la Imprenta en Manila de D. J. T. Medina (Retana, 1899)
FO: Reports of the Governors General (1900-1915)
A review of the identifications of the species described in Blanco's Flora de Filipinas (Merrill, 1905)

Other sites you can check are: Biblioteca Virtual Miguel de Cervantes, Digital Public Library of America, Google Books, and Project Gutenberg.

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Lourdes T. David — Filipino Librarian


Lourdes T. David (center),
with Kate Obille (left), Dean of UP SLIS,
and Grace Tabiendo, President of UPLSAA

Congratulations to Mrs. Lourdes T. David for her Distinguished Alumna Award from the University of the Philippines Library Science Alumni Association (UPLSAA)!

Mrs. David, currently a member of PRC's Board for Librarians, was my predecessor at the Rizal Library. She encouraged me to pursue a Ph.D. while I was still "young" (I was relatively younger then LOL). A few months before I defended my dissertation, the job ad came out, and one of the qualifications indicated was "Ph.D. preferred" =)

Anyway, below are the response she delivered, as well as photos of the plaque, the souvenir program, and the citation in the program.

Response
Lourdes T. David
4 July 2015


Thank you UPLSAA Executive Board 2014-2015 for this Distinguished Alumna Award.

I humbly receive this award on behalf of all librarians and library staff that I have worked with from the time of Ms. Marina Dayrit, when I first worked in the UP Diliman Main Library, and the librarians of UP Los Banos, who inspired me to become a librarian. I also thank the faculty of the then Institute of Library Science, now School of Library and Information Studies, for imparting to me all the knowledge, skills, and attitudes of a good librarian. Allow me to also thank three people who played very important roles in molding me: Prof. Rosa M. Vallejo, Prof. Filomena Tann, and Prof. Namnama Hidalgo.

Now let me tell you a story about how I became a librarian. My bachelor's degree is in Food Technology. When I graduated in 1965, I wanted to teach and study again, so I applied at the Department of Physical Sciences at UPLB, where I taught Chemistry and studied Food Science. While working on my thesis, I frequented the library to conduct my literature search. It was there that I observed and marvelled at how librarians were able to organize information, so that searching for the right information at the right time was possible. Little did I realize that this facination would lead me to the course Master of Library Science (MLS).

I never finished Food Science because I married early and left UPLB for Diliman, where I worked in the main library as a research assistant. The fascination with library work turned into a vision that someday I will become a librarian. In 1985, the vision was realized and I graduated with my MLS. I never regretted the decision. The passion that I had then for Library Science is with me until now. I love librarianship and I am proud to be a librarian. Thank you Prof. Leonor Gregorio and the UPLB Library staff for showing me the importance of librarians in the conduct of research.

I know that the image of librarians is not as high as that for faculty or other professionals, but we who are in the field know our importance. If mathematics is the queen of the sciences, library science is the mother of all disciplines. Without library science, now library and information science and other names akin to it, scientists, educators, students, and the whole of society will not be able to search for and access the right information at the right time, and will not be able to “stand on the shoulders of giants,” so to speak, when they conduct research because they will not be able to identify similar and related works done by others in their field.

Today computers have made text searching of digitized or born-digital materials possible. However, books and other materials that are not available in digitized format still have to be catalogued for easy access. In addition, librarians today teach and/or assist users in searching for information.

Our profession is a noble one and we have to increase our tribe so that more people will benefit from our knowledge and skill. In the last Librarians' Licensure Examination (LLE), the passing rate of new graduates was 70.36 per cent, while that of repeaters was only 21.47 per cent. Only 388 new graduates and 276 repeaters took the exam. The University of the Philippines had a 100 per cent passing rate, but only 25 graduates took the exam. These figures show the very small number of students enrolled in either the bachelor's degree or master's degree programs. We have to work together to increase enrollment and the passing rate. Our goal is an 85% passing rate.

The challenge is for a group or groups to develop modules that would enable the repeaters to understand the concepts of the field. In the past, library science has been taught in a recipe-style manner. With AACR2, for example, the number of spaces between words and the punctuations were always emphasized. The display format was so important to make the catalog look good through uniform entries. Today the display is no longer that important. The content is the key to access and librarians have become teachers, facilitators, managers, and what have you. Let us help the repeaters cope with these changes so that they can pass the LLE, become better librarians, and help improve the image of the librarian.


Click on the images to see the larger versions.

This award is very prestigious because UPSLIS is the leader in library education and librarianship in this country. The bottom line in quality of education is the quality of teaching and teachers. The UPSLIS must be a training institution for librarians, as well as teachers of Library Science in this country. UPLSAA is its alumni arm. UPLSAA must also play this role by helping practitioners develop further through contintuing education programs designed not only for its graduates but also for graduates of other library schools. UPLSAA in this regard must also be a leader in providing life-long learning skills to Filipino librarians.

Perhaps the quality that I possess that has inspired others and gained your vote to name me as the Distinguished Alumna Awardee for 2015 is my belief in people. I believe that all persons are capable of improving themselves through mentoring, and exposure to life-long learning programs. Such activities enable them to see themselves as capable of sharing ideas to colleagues, networking, and becoming more and more competent. Learning is from cradle to the grave.

All of us have this ability to believe in man’s capacity to learn and help in the education of our society. Let us stop remembering how some people look at our profession. That is past. We are what we are at the moment, and let us see ourselves as important members of society. As librarians we have travelled far and wide to either attend or deliver papers in conferences to share our ideas. We have helped students graduate. We have helped faculty with their research and more. Let us therefore share these abilities with other people and encourage them to become librarians.

I would also like to thank my children who have been very supportive of my endeavors. I travel a lot such that my grandaughter asked me one day if I were a spy. When I asked her why, she told me that I am always away on mission, so I must be a spy. Then she added, “It's alright Lola, you always give me gifts when you return.”

This response will not be complete without expressing my gratitude to God Almighty. He has always been my Great Wall, on whom I lean for strength, guidance, compassion, and love. The teaching to love one another is His greatest gift to humanity.

Thank you UPLSAA for this opportunity to share my thoughts about librarianship.

Mabuhay tayong lahat!


Reproduced with the author's permission.

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Outstanding Librarian 2015:
Estrella Velasco Manuel

Estrella Velasco Manuel

The Professional Regulation Commission conferred the Outstanding Professional Librarian of the Year Award on Estrella Velasco Manuel on 18 June 2015. The citation reads:
As one of the pillars of Philippine Librarianship, a distinguished leader for more than sixty years, having served as a teacher-librarian since 1952, Dr. Estrella Velasco Manuel, was instrumental in the institution of the Library Science Program of Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) in 1978. Her exemplary dedication and service to the profession as library director of PUP and head of the Library Science Department for many years, author of the book on Philippine School Librarianship and other research publications, and participation in leading library organizations both international and local, such as the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA), the Orientalist Organization of Asian Librarians, the Philippine Librarians Association (where she served in the Board), the Philippine Association of Teachers of Library Science (PATLS) where she served as Vice President, then President in 1988-1989, and the Philippine Society on Curriculum Development as its former President, amply demonstrate to the highest degree of professionalism and leadership her outstanding contribution in the field of library science.

Thanks to Elvira Lapuz for providing the photo (taken by Joebert De Paz) and citation.


Category: Librarians—Awardees

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The Philippines for Beginners: Book Recommendations


I was recently asked to make some book recommendations. The books, preferably available in bookstores and "easily digestible," were to answer the question: What should I read if I want to learn more about the Philippines and Philippine culture?

Smile, Cebu Pacific's inflight magazine, is probably one of the most widely-circulated (if not most widely-read) magazines in the Philippines AND I had long wondered why the few books featured in its pages were mostly foreign books, so even though my mom was in the hospital when the request came and I was quite busy at work, I set aside some time thinking about which books about the Philippines would be helpful for foreigners and Filipinos alike.

Below is the introduction I sent (which was not published huhu), as well as the full text of the article. You can download "The Philippines for Beginners," the entire June 2015 issue, and even previous issues on the Smile website.

THE PHILIPPINES FOR BEGINNERS
These recommendations from book historian and librarian Dr Vernon R Totanes are sure to add to your knowledge of the nation

"What’s the best history book on the Philippines?" That's a question I usually get asked when people find out that my PhD dissertation was on the history of the Filipino history book. My answer is often another question—"What are you interested in?"—because there is no book that is suitable for all readers, and scholarly monographs or school textbooks are not necessarily appropriate for the needs of those who wish to know more about Filipinos and the Philippines.

1 Learn Tagalog — the fun way
ALAMAT NG AMPALAYA BY AUGIE RIVERA
The song "Bahay Kubo" enumerates the many vegetables grown in neighborhood gardens with one exception — ampalaya (bitter gourd). The omission inspired this children's book. The Tagalog and English texts are sure to prove useful for those aiming to study one or both languages.

2 Get to know a national hero
RIZAL WITHOUT THE OVERCOAT BY AMBETH R OCAMPO
Jose Rizal, considered the national hero of the Philippines, was more man than Superman. This book uses humor and interesting trivia to (re)introduce Rizal as a mere mortal who loved women, was stingy with money and liked to eat tuyo for breakfast.

3 Be one with the locals
PACIFIC RIMS: BEERMEN BALLIN’ IN FLIP-FLOPS AND THE PHILIPPINES' UNLIKELY LOVE AFFAIR WITH BASKETBALL BY RAFE BARTHOLOMEW
Ever wondered why Filipinos — most of whom aren't that tall — love basketball? Find the answer in this book, which the author has described as his love letter to the Philippines.

4 Appreciate the nation's cuisine
MEMORIES OF PHILIPPINE KITCHENS BY AMY BESA AND ROMY DOROTAN
Learn how to cook lumpiang Shanghai, adobo and kinilaw and get better acquainted with the origins of Philippine cuisine with this cookbook by the duo behind Purple Yam. It features stunning photographs, too.

i DR VERNON R TOTANES, LICENSED LIBRARIAN AND BOOK HISTORIAN, IS THE DIRECTOR OF THE RIZAL LIBRARY, ATENEO DE MANILA UNIVERSITY. HE BLOGS AT FILIPINOLIBRARIAN.BLOGSPOT.COM

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Book-lat: Reading in the Philippines


In case you missed it last week, the video of a TV5 documentary on reading in the Philippines is now available online. The documentary's title, "Book-lat," references the Tagalog word "buklat" (in English, to open like a book). The question it seeks to answer is "Kaya ba nating makalikha ng isang nasyon ng mga mambabasa?" (Can we create a nation of readers?) Watch the entire documentary below.

Part 1



Part 2


Part 3


Part 4


Disclosure: I was interviewed for the show, and I appear as early as 1:11 in the first segment. Note that I am not identified as a librarian, but as a book historian. Also, the Rizal Library is featured prominently in the host's spiels and my interview, and several librarians and staff are clearly identifiable in the background and walking through the stacks.

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Librarians' Licensure Examination 2015: Results

Congratulations to the new librarians!

The passing rate for this year's Librarians' Licensure Examination (LLE) is 47 percent (349 out of 742), which is higher than the 2014 passing rate of 28 percent, but is consistent with the passing rates of 47 percent in 2012 and 46 percent in 2013.

It appears that the decline in the passing rate last year was, in fact, due to the change in exam schedule (i.e., from November to April), which meant that most of the 2014 examinees were repeaters, not fresh graduates. This conclusion is borne out by this year's passing rate for first timers (70 percent, or 273 of 388), which is more than triple that for repeaters (22 percent, or 76 of 354).

What I found most interesting about this year's LLE, however, is that while most of the examinees on the list of top scorers (9 of 12) were from the University of the Philippines (UP), the three non-UP examinees—from Central Philippine University (Iloilo), University of San Carlos (Cebu), and Cor Jesu College (Davao del Sur)—dominated the top 4.

The list of the top scorers is reproduced below. The list of successful examinees may be downloaded from the official website of the Professional Regulation Commission.

Top 12
ALLANA SANGLAP DELGADO 89.60
SEACHEL SAGMON OYAO 87.85
MARIA CARINA GONGORA RAYMUNDO 86.95
MARJORIE TOLENTINO JORILLO 86.75
FAYE FRANCISCO LABIANO 86.60
ARCHIMEDES PORNILLOS OIDA 86.60
JOANNE AGUILAR VALEBIA 86.55
THEO RAFAEL SANTOS AMAN 86.40
DENISSE HOPE ORDINARIO DIZON 86.35
JOR-EL ESGUERRA PARAGUA 86.35
REDENTOR BIEN CHUA LUZ JR 86.20
FLORABEL MENDOZA FUMAR 86.10

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Librarians' Licensure Examination 2015

Yes, librarians in the Philippines are licensed by the Professional Regulation Commission. This year's Librarians' Licensure Examination (LLE) will be held on April 22 & 23 in Manila, Baguio, Cebu, Davao & Legaspi.

Ten years ago, I shared some tips on applying for and taking the LLE. While there have been a few changes between now and then, most of the advice I gave then—from applying early to not "fighting" exam questions—should still be applicable today.

If you or someone you know is taking the LLE (or any board exam, actually) this year, you may wish to read the following posts:

Librarians' Licensure Examination 2005
LLE 2005: Applying in Person
LLE 2005: Studying for the Exam
LLE 2005: Preparing for D-Day
LLE 2005: Taking the Exam

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Epifanio de los Santos Day 2015


Ten years ago, I unilaterally declared April 7 as "Epifanio de los Santos Day." It was commemorated in 2006 and 2007, but it hasn't been celebrated on this blog since. Thankfully, Ambeth Ocampo wrote about the librarian after whom the the Philippines' best-known highway is named just last week. Here's what he wrote in "Contemplating Edsa" (Philippine Daily Inquirer, 27 March 2015):
Epifanio de los Santos Avenue starts north from the Bonifacio Monument in Caloocan stretching almost 24 kilometers through Quezon City, San Juan, Mandaluyong, Makati, to the Mall of Asia in Pasay.

What did De los Santos do to deserve such a singular honor? He was not just a two-time governor of Nueva Ecija, he was more than an epal politician: He was a historian, journalist, musician, bibliophile and antiques collector who served as director of the National Library of the Philippines...

Epifanio de los Santos wrote for the revolutionary paper La Independencia and was also an accomplished painter. It is said that a beautiful young lady in charge of a college for women (Rosa Sevilla?) received an oil portrait from an anonymous admirer. Nobody knew who had sent the gift, so some of her many suitors courted her attention and affection by claiming that they had sent the portrait. So one day when all the competitors were wooing the woman, praising and commenting on her portrait, De los Santos asked that they take the painting out of its frame. On the back they found his name. Furthermore, a piece of music hidden behind the painting was found, and De los Santos serenaded the woman with it, “to the mingled delight and despair of the other suitors.”
Next year, I hope that we'll have a story about a living librarian to share, someone who shares Epifanio de los Santos's qualities.

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Movers & Shakers 2015: Ma. Lorna Eguia


Congratulations to Ma. Lorna Eguia, the first Filipino librarian to be chosen as one of Library Journal's Movers & Shakers!

Her work with victims of Typhoon Haiyan, specifically the bibliotherapy she offered to children through her Books in Bags project, is featured prominently in her citation as a Community Builder.

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Library Renewal Partnership

Many people have told me that they want to help build public libraries, but often they think it will be enough to donate books. I tell them that book donations—and even new library buildings—are not enough.

Someone has to be there to make sure that the books are taken out of the boxes, organized, and displayed. Otherwise, it is very likely the books will remain in their boxes forever. Someone also has to open the library on a regular basis, make sure the lights are working and the place is clean, AND tell members of the community about the library's resources and services. Otherwise, like many other public libraries that we have now, most of the people around them will not even know that there is a public library in their midst (see the NBDB Readership Survey 2012). In short, a librarian—or at least someone who loves books and is a full-time employee—must be hired if the public library is to achieve its objective.

But how does one go about hiring a librarian, or helping the nearest public library, for that matter? Wouldn't they have to coordinate with the National Library or the local mayor? What if there's no public library and they'd like to convert an existing space? I can't answer all these questions, but thankfully, there is a foundation that can help answer all these questions, and even help address all other areas of concern =)


According to its website, Library Renewal Partnership (LRP) is "a coalition of local and international partners that aims to to empower over 2 million citizens, by building at least 200 community education centres by the year 2020 and help forge an interconnected archipelago of readers and leaders."

As Quintin Pastrana (LRP's founder) states in "Making a difference, one library at a time" (Philippine Star, 9 March 2015), "...the local government provides the physical structure, overhead expenses, and staffing, while partners and donors provide books, learning materials, and educational programs." How? They work with interested mayors to get a memorandum of agreement signed, which assures them that the local government will take care of providing the following: 70-square-meter space (minimum), Internet connection, and library overhead (including electricity and salaries).

If you'd like to set up a public library in your barangay or municipality, there is no need to reinvent the wheel. Please get in touch with LRP.

For more information about LRP, see their website and Pastrana's 2-part "Where have our libraries gone?"

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That Thing Called Tadhana
Or, How I Became a Librarian

Guest Post by Oj Cruz


Photo by Ada Cañas, GMA News Library

People I meet, after the perfunctory introductions are made, are usually surprised to find out I am a librarian. Reactions range from the demure "oh," with a slight twitch of the left facial muscles, to the "oh-no-you're-not," delivered with an abrupt plunge in tone of voice; skin slowly turning pale. Kidding aside, people I meet for the first time are genuinely interested why a young man in his 30s (because 30 is the new 20, haha) seriously considered and made a career out of being a librarian. A Librarian. Not Information Manager, Information Specialist, Information Analyst, or any other incarnation of the basic title of the profession available on the Internet nowadays.

Why become a librarian? Why not a career in the arts or media, as befits my online persona or my gregarious self when in the company of close friends? I cannot claim that librarianship as a career path came to me like lightning-amidst-storm-clouds, an epiphany, or a mid-morning realization. No, it didn't. In fact, who would choose a career that upon mention will instantly fill one's head with images of old maids shushing the life out of unruly high school teens? LOL. Never in my wildest dreams; but it happened, one thing led to another—and now I’m all the more thankful for it.

My life as an undergraduate Iskolar ng Bayan was mired with trials, hardships, and tribulations along the way in the form of 5.0s, 3.0s, INCs, and occasional sleepless nights on account of a paper, a report, or both. (It happens to most; not that I have a very unique life story in UP, haha!) I ended up, like most of us did back then (late 90s), at the steps of the UP School of Library and Information Studies, begging to be given another shot at UP Life. The shot was given, indeed, and before long I found myself poring over books on library history, cataloging and classification, indexing and abstracting, management, reference service, and information technology—all of those on top of the general education subjects that one has to pass in order to graduate with a UP degree. No, my friends, Librarianship as an undergraduate course is not the easy way to a UP degree; but since a chance was given, I had to prove myself worthy of the challenge. I toiled and worked hard, understanding the concepts and applying them in various exercises designed to mold us into future information professionals.

One might say that I was thrust right in the middle of the action. I was like a fish out of water; still relishing my old life back in my old college that I left for this new one—my head still filled with dreams of what-could-have-been. But despite the situation, I kept an open mind, welcomed the different possibilities that this change might bring about. As semesters wore on and my study habits gradually improved, so did my grades begin to finally pick up. I eventually realized that maybe this "abrupt change" was not so abrupt after all, that maybe an unseen guiding hand was leading me through all of this. How else can one explain the series of events that led me to the doorsteps of the UP SLIS—Mass Comm's period of application for shifting closing right exactly as I was still trying to argue my case with them; myself at the very end of my two-semesters-allowed "non-major" status; and only 3 colleges left open that were still accepting shiftees into their fold (CAL, SLIS, and CSWD). Having had a prior theater audition gone awry, and not really seeing myself as a convincing social worker, I took the best option available. And the rest was history.

Looking back, having had a good one year solid run with GMA Network as one of its news librarians, and followed by an 11-year stint (and counting) with the Senate as a Legislative Staff Officer in the Library, I can say I have had a professionally rewarding 12 years of practice as a librarian. Armed with a degree in Library and Information Science and the approval of the PRC's Board for Librarians to practice Librarianship, I was able to help shape public opinion (at GMA) and help craft relevant pieces of legislation that affect the country's future (in the Senate) in my own little way, by providing the much needed information at the right time.

As libraries continue to prove themselves valuable both in the corporate world and in government, as go-to-places for research, so too, do I find myself thriving. With every question posed to me—a legislative history of a Republic Act, a profile of a senator, a book on the constitution—I discover my inner child again; that child who relished finding new discoveries. For in every page of a book I read, history is discovered. Even the most mundane of trivia interests me. My stint covering the various quiz bees during my elementary years can attest to that; the love of information for the sake of information itself. Why, looking back I was already making lists and inventories of children's books I owned when I was in elementary; color-coding the covers of my fiction books back in high school, haha!

So yeah. It was not an epiphany, a mid-morning realization, or even a lightning-amidst-storm-clouds type of recognition back in college, that I wanted to be a librarian. Looking back, it was something more than that. Call it Divine Providence, if you want, a profound-accident-of-sorts, or maybe just a stroke of luck.

I call it Tadhana.

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FO: Rare Books


In "Old-fashioned books" (Philippine Daily Inquirer, 4 March 2015), Ambeth Ocampo states that
Today, many of the rare books on the Philippines are now available online. Some are copied out by Project Gutenberg, while others have been scanned and are downloadable free from the Biblioteca Nacional de España and other websites. The National Library of the Philippines has many important Philippine materials available online for free, while the Filipinas Heritage Library has its digitized books available online for a minimal fee, the Lopez Museum and Library has its major holdings scanned and can be consulted in-house.
It is difficult, however, for those reading the column—whether in print or online—to appreciate his point because there are no links that lead to the rare books to which he refers. Even if readers are able to Google the sites he mentions, it is not necessarily easy to find the books on the Philippines that have been digitized. So here's a little public service: the same paragraph with clickable links (and some instructions) that will make it easier to find rare books on the Philippines.
Today, many of the rare books on the Philippines are now available online. Some are copied out by Project Gutenberg, while others have been scanned and are downloadable free from the Biblioteca Nacional de España [use "Filipinas" as the search term] and other websites. The National Library of the Philippines has many important Philippine materials available online for free, while the Filipinas Heritage Library has its digitized books available online for a minimal fee, the Lopez Museum and Library has its major holdings scanned and can be consulted in-house. [Unfortunately, the Lopez website does not reveal much about its Library's holdings.]
If you would like to see other sites that have been featured on this blog, as well as some of the more important rare books that may be accessed online, see the following:

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Why Did I Become a Librarian?


Photo by Daniel Tan

Last month, I was asked to write a short essay on my favorite place in Ateneo. I ended up writing not so much about the Ateneo libraries I used to frequent when I was growing up, but how my favorite places influenced my own journey to becoming a librarian (see "Laman ng Lib"). I am reproducing the essay below, with links to posts I've written in the past, to (re-)introduce myself to the old and new readers of this blog. Feel free to leave comments on Facebook.


Laman ng Lib


Grade 2 pa lang ako, laman na ako ng library.

The first book I ever borrowed at the Grade School library was The Melted Coins, a Hardy Boys mystery (see "Five Things About Vonjobi"). After finishing the entire series sometime in Grade 6, I was allowed to borrow a few books, including Robert Ludlum's The Scarlatti Inheritance, from the restricted faculty collection by appealing to Ms. Grace Valente, the first librarian I asked to bend a rule for me.

At the High School library, I never had to ask for special permission to borrow books, but it probably wouldn't have been difficult because Mrs. Inday Lara, the librarian, was my father's childhood playmate. One book that I will never forget is William Goldman’s Adventures in the Screen Trade, which introduced me to the practical aspects of filmmaking in an engaging, non-technical manner (see "Meme: Books I Own and Love"). I liked it so much that I borrowed and reread it every year. If the yellow borrower's card at the back is still there, you'll see that I signed my name consecutively.

When I moved on to the College, I was happy to finally become a legitimate user of the Rizal Library. I had been able to use it a few times as a high school senior, but I always felt like a guest afraid to overstay his welcome. This time, however, I could browse the books without having to sign in and indicate what my research topic was. In particular, I liked looking at books that had just been returned, which I took as an indicator that they were worth reading. That's how I found Ogilvy on Advertising, which opened my eyes to the realities of communicating with potential customers, even before we had to discuss the subject in class.

After graduating from the College in 1995, I still had no idea what I wanted to become. But I knew that it had to be something I enjoyed doing and it had to be meaningful. For a while, I found meaning in my job as a service quality officer in a bank, but after four years I decided to move on. Then, I considered the possibility of becoming a Jesuit. I lived for a year in Arvisu House, a place where young men stayed while thinking about joining the Society of Jesus, and took subjects once again at the College, and at the Loyola School of Theology. At the end of the year, however, it became clear that the Jesuits and I were better off as friends, not “married” =)

It was then that the period I call my "wandering in the desert" years began. I taught high school religion at the Jesuit-run Sacred Heart School for Boys in Cebu for a year, joined the Social Security System for a few months as a consultant (and vowed to avoid government jobs forever), worked as a quality supervisor in a call center for an even shorter period, edited books for publication as a sideline, and explored the possibility of getting an MA in Theology or an MBA. The last option got me thinking about what I really wanted to do with my life.

Further discernment led me to ask two questions: "What do I really like doing?" and "What can I see myself doing 10 years from now?" The answer to the first question was "I love reading books," but it was obvious that there was no career in reading for me. Then I remembered my library experiences as a student, and I wondered if there was such a thing as a master's degree for librarians. Google told me there was such a thing, so I enrolled in 2002, finished my graduate degree in library and information science by 2004, took the PRC Board Exam for librarians, got my license to practice, and eventually left for Canada to study for a PhD in book history (see "In My Life, 1999-2009").

A few relatives and friends urged me to stay in Canada after obtaining my degree, but I knew that I wanted to work in the Philippines. But where? My doctorate rendered me overqualified for most librarian jobs, except for the largest universities. However, as a blue-blooded Atenean, former Jesuit wannabe, and government-averse Filipino, I could not imagine working for De La Salle University, University of Santo Tomas, or University of the Philippines. There was really only one option: Ateneo de Manila University.

Fortuitously, Mrs. Lourdes David, the Rizal Library's Director, was retiring soon, and a search committee had been formed to look for her replacement, preferably someone with a PhD. In my application, I emphasized that I was an Ateneo alumnus along with my other qualifications, and hoped for the best. And so it happened that 30 years after I borrowed my first library book, almost 20 years after graduation, and exactly 10 years after asking my second question, I was hired to do something meaningful that I enjoyed doing.

I've been asked, "Bakit mo iniwan yung magandang trabaho mo sa Makati?" (Why did you leave your nice job in Makati?) and "ME ka, bakit mo gustong mag-pari (or mag-librarian)?" (You're a Management Engineering graduate, why do you want to become a priest (or a librarian)?) and "Nasa Canada ka na, bakit bumalik ka pa ng Pilipinas?” (You were already in Canada, why did you return to the Philippines?) The answers to each of these questions can be the subject of separate articles, but they are all essentially products of the process of discernment that I learned as an Atenean and as a Jesuit wannabe.

Over the years, I've identified with Joseph, who was sold into slavery in Egypt, but eventually found his way back to Israel. I tell people that I've gotten lost and taken some wrong turns over the years, but somehow, for some unknown reason, God takes care of me... whether I deserve it or not. And this is how I know that God does, in fact, write straight with crooked lines, with long detours, and with borrowers' cards.

St. Ignatius was right. We can, in fact, find God in all things. Even in the library.


Vernon Totanes is the Director of the Rizal Library. He obtained his PhD degree at the University of Toronto, and his master's degree in library and information science at the University of the Philippines. He is an alumnus of the Ateneo de Manila University (GS 1987, HS 1991, BSME 1995).

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LIS Research by Filipino Librarians

For the longest time, the only local journal where library and information science (LIS) research conducted by Filipino librarians could be submitted and published was the Journal of Philippine Librarianship (JPL). Now there's a new kid on the block: the PAARL Research Journal, a new project from the Philippine Association of Academic and Research Librarians (PAARL). Here's hoping it comes out more regularly than JPL, and that the quality of articles improves over time.

(Update on 5 March 2015: I forgot to mention the relatively new, two-year-old ASLP Journal, which focuses on special libraries.)

If you would like to see the output of Filipino librarians published in academic journals over the years (along with the output of other researchers writing about LIS in the Philippines), take a look at Library, Information Science & Technology Abstracts, which indicates that the following works by Filipino librarians were published and indexed in 2014:
Acedera, Annabelle Paredes.
Are Philippine Librarians Ready for Resource Description and Access (RDA)? The Mindanao Experience. Cataloging & Classification Quarterly (2014) 52:600-607.

Fresnido, Ana Maria Balenbin; Yap, Joseph Marmol.
Academic library consortia in the Philippines: hanging in the balance. Library Management (2014) 35:15-36.

Morooka, Kazuko; Ramos, Mila; Nathaniel, Fonseca.
A bibliometric approach to interdisciplinarity in Japanese rice research and technology development. Scientometrics (2014) 98:73-98.

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Filipino Librarian is Ten Years Old!

This blog is 10 years old, with 946 posts published over the past 10 years, and only 51 over the last 5. I have obviously not been blogging much recently, but I suppose it's still worth celebrating this milestone because I still get encouraged to "revive" this blog by librarians (as recently as yesterday) and non-librarians (i.e., a journalist, a few weeks ago). And so, yes, I've decided to blog more actively. I plan to blog every Sunday, starting this coming Sunday.

For now, let me just review what this blog is about, and where it has taken me, by quoting a few sentences from my first-ever post 10 years ago, as well as the succeeding anniversary posts. Comments are welcome on my Facebook account =)

Mabuhay! — 2005

This blog is for all Filipino librarians--whether working in the Philippines or elsewhere.

I am not really a blogger but I thought of setting up this blog as a way of establishing a presence for Filipino librarians on the Internet.

This blog will not be about me. Initially, I see it as a means to share information that I think will benefit Filipino librarians. And once I gain enough blogging experience, maybe we (yes, you and I) can think of other things that we can do with this blog.

Finally, just to make things clear, I do not claim to be the Filipino Librarian.
1st anniversary — 2006
One of the most amazing things that has happened over the past year is that this blog, which some would probably deem "boring" just by looking at its name, is now among the top 30 Pinoy Top Blogs. It's also in the top 40 of Technorati’s Philippine Top 100 Blogs. And then there's the fact that even Spanish and German blogs have linked to this blog. What this means is that it's not just Filipinos or librarians who are reading this blog. ... In any case, I guess this blog's initial objective of "establishing a presence for Filipino librarians on the Internet" has been achieved.
2nd anniversary — 2007
Popular pages: Undoubtedly, the Talumpati posts, followed by the ones about—sshhh—"Sex in the Library," which is not really about sex. The average number of visitors, not to mention pageloads, doubled from June to August 2006 after I began translating speeches into Tagalog. Sex doesn't really get mentioned on this blog very often, but the few posts that do usually get a lot of visits. Knowing that most of this blog's traffic comes from students doing "research," and perverts looking for I-don't-know-what, should I just take the easy way out and cater to their "needs"? =)
3rd anniversary — 2008
Three years ago, I wrote that, "I am not really a blogger..." Well, I've since become a real blogger (one symptom: feeling guilty if I don't blog) that now I always identify myself as the owner of the blog Filipino Librarian whenever I am asked for a short bio—in addition to saying that I am a Filipino librarian.

During past anniversaries, I have reviewed the "accomplishments" of this blog, but this time I will just take comfort in the fact that many more librarians and libraries are blogging than when I first started...
4th anniversary — 2009
The most remarkable thing about having blogged for so long is that sometimes Googling a keyword takes me to my own blog and I don't even recall anymore that I had actually written the post.
5th anniversary — 2010
After five years of blogging about my profession, I am not entirely sure that there is really much that has changed. It seems to me that there is more that can be done in terms of leadership training, marketing libraries and promoting the profession. But frankly, if it's not obvious yet from the way my posts on this blog have dwindled over the past years, I'm getting a little tired of pushing things that I'm not really sure anyone else cares about. So thanks for visiting on my blog's fifth anniversary—and reading all the way to the end—but to be perfectly honest, I don't know if there's going to be a sixth anniversary. Ciao!

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