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Who’s Tuning In, Logging On and Hitting the Books

Globally, individuals say they spent 16.6 hours watching television, 8 hours listening to the radio, 6.5 hours reading and 8.9 hours on computers/Internet (for non-work related reasons) on average each week.

"NOP World Culture Score(TM) Index Examines Global Media Habits...Uncovers Who’s Tuning In, Logging On and Hitting the Books" (15 June 2005)
According to NOP's press release, individuals around the world spend 10 hours more watching TV than reading. According to the same press release, Filipinos spend 13 hours more watching TV than reading, and are ranked 2nd among TV watchers and 3rd among readers. But this was the story that appeared yesterday:
"Filipinos No. 3 among world's bookworms" by Alcuin Papa (Philippine Daily Inquirer, 29 June 2005)
While I was happy that Filipinos' reading habits were recognized, there is something seriously wrong when the most important findings of a study are glossed over. If we were to act, for instance, based on the Inquirer report alone, we might just say that there is really no problem, that we're better off than most people in the world.

But the truth is that the time Filipinos spend watching TV is more than 150 percent of the time they spend reading. In fact, the difference is greater than the global average. Let's emphasize the positive, sure; but let's not delude ourselves, either.


America's Public School Libraries

Nope. This is not another they're-so-much-better-than-us lamentation that some seem to specialize in. If you must classify this post, think of it as a suggestion for a thesis topic.

NCES 1953-54NCES 1999-2000

The table above is taken from "America's Public School Libraries: 1953–2000." One cannot argue with the numbers—public school libraries in the United States are much better off now than before.

The same, however, cannot be said for public school libraries in the Philippines. Not because our libraries are in worse shape now, but because we don't have data to make such a conclusion. My guess would be that not much has changed in 65 years, but that's just a guess.

And so, if you are a library and information science student looking for a thesis topic, please consider doing something similar to "America's Public School Libraries." The thesis submitted by Concordia Sanchez in 1940 may be used as the starting point, while additional interviews and/or surveys—plus other documents and theses—can provide the end point.

It will be difficult, of course, but if done by a group of students with proper planning, then I think it will be do-able. Having a contact person per region will make data gathering easier. Using SurveyMonkey.com's free online service will make data gathering even more efficient (note: there are limits to number of questions and responses, but surveys can be conducted on a per-region basis to get around the limitations).

Incidentally, SurveyMonkey.com can be used by anyone for just about any kind of survey. Check it out!

Related posts:

The State of Public Schools
The State of Public School Libraries
Basic Education and Corruption
Librarians as Leaders
Hope for Public School Libraries
Public School Libraries


I'm Sorry

I'm sorry. I've been very busy. I wanted to comment on juetengate, Gloriagate, Cardinal Sin's death and Robert Tarongoy's release, but I reasoned that I wouldn't really have anything to say that others haven't already said. Besides, I didn't—and still don't—have the time.

But now, I don't know. I feel the need to say something, but what? The librarian in me wants to be objective, to present all opinions and let users decide for themselves. But the Filipino in me just wants it all to end, let's get back to work. Then again, the realist in me accepts that "I'm sorry" is not, in fact, enough. I just hope it all works out in the end.


Garfield on Librarians

Via LISNews


New Acquisitions

The following are some of the books and DVDs that I could not resist buying while I was in Toronto because:

  1. They are not readily available in Manila; and
  2. Even if they were available in Manila, I could not have acquired them at the low prices at which I bought them.
Except for the DVD, I did not buy any of these at full price. I actually got two of the books at a 3-for-$10 sale (that's Canadian dollars!), and the other two at less than half price. And they're not used books!

In the StacksI bought In the Stacks: Short Stories About Libraries and Librarians (edited by Michael Cart) primarily because I had heard so much about Jorge Luis Borges's "The Library of Babel." I'm happy to report that, after my first reading, there is so much more that this book has to offer. I will be posting my reviews of individual stories soon.
Desk SetDesk Set [DVD; starring Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn] tells the story of a librarian who cannot and will not allow herself to be replaced by a machine (sound familiar?).
The Dream MachineThe Dream Machine: J.C.R. Licklider and the Revolution That Made Computing Personal (M. Mitchell Waldrop) takes readers through a "history of computers from the 1930s to the 1970s, with an emphasis on Licklider," one of the more important pioneers in the development of the computer.
LibraryLibrary: An Unquiet History (Matthew Battles) offers a history of libraries and how they survived through the ages by changing with the times. I hope some of the stories will be applicable to the future.
The Meaning of EverythingIn The Meaning of Everything: The Story of the Oxford English Dictionary (Simon Winchester), I hope to gain a better understanding of why Bill Buxton called the Oxford English Dictionary the "first major open source project" at SLA 2005.


What Librarians Can Learn from Basketball

Basketball is the national sport in the Philippines. If no basketball court is available in a neighborhood, you can be sure that a makeshift one will be built in someone's driveway, an empty lot or even a main thoroughfare. Sadly, the same is not true of libraries. If one is not available, Filipinos do without. Could it be that libraries are unnecessary?

In "Means, not ends" (Journal of the Medical Library Association, July 2004), T. Scott Plutchak makes a connection between basketball and libraries. When you start reading the article, it's almost as if it's going to be just about basketball, but he eventually gets around to libraries:

It is easy to complain about heartless and narrow-minded administrators who do not see the value of the library. But what have you done to prove the value of your library to them? How are you making sure that they see ways that the library can solve their problems? Libraries cost money, and, if the administrator cannot be shown why spending that money improves the overall health of the organization, then the administrator has an obligation to shut the library down and spend that money elsewhere. That may turn out to be a bad decision, but it is still a rational one.
Libraries are, of course, not basketball courts. But there is much that librarians can learn by looking at why Filipinos are so devoted to the sport. I do not have time to go into specifics, but Plutchak makes some important points:
Basketball is not an end in itself...—it is a piece, an important piece, of building an overall university community that provides students with a full range of educational, cultural, and community experiences.

Libraries are like that, too, and librarians need to think of themselves that way... We have talents, resources, and skills that are essential for the success of our institutions... That means getting out of the library and talking with the people we serve about what they are doing and what their goals are. It means thinking about what the institution needs and not what the library needs. Sometimes, it even means going to basketball games.
Libraries are not just about reading and research. Libraries are also about providing what users need or want. And if librarians can entice users to visit the library because of an exhibit, for example, that interests them—say, a retrospective on basketball players or relevant materials on the Anti-Wiretapping Law—then it will be easier to demonstrate the relevance of the library to the rest of the community.


Digital Camera Tips

Do you remember the times of your life? Well, times have changed and the cameras we use have changed, too. In fact, Kodak has already stopped selling traditional cameras (MSNBC News, 13 January 2004).

The following tips—with one-sentence summaries from me—are from "Less Cursing, Better Pictures: 10 Suggestions" by David Pogue (New York Times, 8 June 2005):

  1. End shutter lag: Half-pressing is the answer.
  2. Don't believe the megapixel myth: As always, quality—not quantity—counts.
  3. Ignore digital zoom: Optical zoom matters more.
  4. Ditch the starter card: Get a memory card with a higher capacity.
  5. Beware the format factor: Different cameras may require different memory cards.
  6. Do your research: Reviews are available, read them.
  7. Know your class: What's your budget? What will you use it for?
  8. Turn off the flash: You don't always need it.
  9. Turn on the flash: Know when to use it.
  10. Turn off the screen: Conserve your battery.
And finally—this one's from me:
Do your share: Cameras don't take pictures, people do.


Book Development Month

June is Book Development Month!

This year's theme is "Aklat, Buklat, Mulat," which means "book, open, enlighten." As part of the celebration, a "Story Reading Competition" is being held for Grade 5 students from public and private schools in the National Capital Region (note: the deadline for submission of applications was June 17). The National Book Development Board is the government agency responsible for this initiative.

If you are interested in knowing more about the state of our local publishing industry, see "Graphs / Charts," which shows statistics on reading habits, the number of books printed, and the imbalance that exists between the number of books we import as against the number of those we export. A link is also provided to the brochure that summarizes the results of the SWS survey on the "reading attitudes and preferences of Filipinos."

For a historical overview of Philippine publishing, see "Books and Bookmaking in the Philippines" by Rosa M. Vallejo. And if you're really concerned about the book industry, you have to read "Emerging Trends in Philippine Publishing" by Karina A. Bolasco.


Happy Father's Day!

I'll be leaving for the airport soon—after more than two weeks in Toronto—to go back to Manila. To go back home.

It's been a while since I last read the Youngblood column and it seems quite serendipitous that the article for today is "My balikbayan box" by Robertino Lim (Philippine Daily Inquirer, 18 June 2005)... and that tomorrow is Father's Day. Lim writes:

I felt like I was walking into the past, into my father's youth. I saw a chair, a photograph and each room, and I pictured it as it was decades ago, as my dad knew it. I thought of all the memories here, the ties my father had to this place.
I am not, in fact, going to be a real balikbayan, but I do have a balikbayan box. And I guess it could be said that we all bring our own "baggage" wherever we go.

It will probably be a while before I am able to post like I used to. It is Saturday morning as I write this. I will be arriving close to midnight on Sunday and am planning to go to work first thing Monday morning (wish me luck!).

And so, let me just leave you with a question: If you had a balikbayan box of your own, how would it represent your relationship with your father?



Instead of replying to each and every comment that has been made on previous posts, I hope no one will mind if I just reply here.

To ame.sweet: I'm not a religion teacher anymore, but I've run into a few students who keep quoting what I taught them when they meet me. I don't know how religious they are now, but my objective was to make them realize that they can connect the Bible to the things they do every day. And just the fact that they can remember what I taught makes me happy already =)

To all who have joined the "Yan ang Pinay" campaign: Thank you very much!

To those who have continued writing about the Filipina: Keep it up!To Gigi: As I said in "The Filipina and 'Yan ang Pinay'," "this movement is not limited to women. After all, the one who got the ball rolling, the designer of the first logo and this blogger are men."

To DarkBlak: It will never be too late to join the "Yan ang Pinay" campaign.

Tag/s: ,


Stay Tuned

If you are a loyal reader and have been wondering why I'm not posting as often as I used to, I'm currently in Canada because I attended the SLA Annual Conference from June 5-8. Internet access was very limited then, but now I'm staying at a place with unlimited access and will soon be addressing the comments that have piled up over the past week. Please be patient.

If you would like to know more about the conference, please see "Librarians as tech-savvy sleuths" by Anthony Reinhart (Globe and Mail, 9 June 2005) and the SLA 2005 Conference Blog. If you would like to see photos of bloggers from all over the world (okay, mostly North Americans with one Filipino), check out "Photos of Bloggers," and note that the i blog shirt has made it to foreign shores.

Finally, I will, of course, be writing about the different sessions I attended, the new things I learned and the people I met. Stay tuned...



FO: The Philippine Revolution

Mabuhay! Today is Independence Day.

The Philippine Revolution is a digital collection of motion pictures from the The Spanish-American War in Motion Pictures, which contains films made by "the Edison Manufacturing Company and the American Mutoscope & Biograph Company and consist of actualities filmed in the U.S., Cuba, and the Philippines, showing troops, ships, notable figures, and parades, as well as reenactments of battles and other war-time events."

The films are listed at the end of the brief essay on the Philippine Revolution and may be viewed in RealMedia, MPEG and Quick Time formats.

For more information on why the Philippines celebrates its independence on June 12 and not July 4, please see the following:

Series: Filipiniana Online


Introducing Gen X to the Bible

Students went back to school last Monday and that's why most of the posts this week have been school-related. I would like to share the following article—which I wrote in my previous life as a teacher—in the hope that readers can pick up ideas on how to bridge the generation gap with students. The article was previously published in The Windhover (First Quarter, 2003) 26-27.

“The teacher. Too weird,” was what one of my students wrote in answer to the question, “What did you not like about the last quarter?” I was so happy with my student’s response that I started our next class, and even those with other sections, by saying that this feedback was my favorite among all the replies. And when they asked “Why?” I told them that I liked it so much because it’s true. I am, in fact, weird. “I don’t think you have ever had or will ever have another Religion teacher like me.” And, as if to prove my point, I told them we were going to listen to the song “Seasons in the Sun” before I returned their exams for the previous quarter.

Seasons in the Sun

Many of my students liked boy bands and some did not, but the reaction was fairly uniform. They were looking forward to it because teachers rarely played songs in class. (And when teachers did let them listen to songs, they were more likely to be religious songs and not the latest hits.) So I played the song. And their faces fell. “What is that?” I stopped the tape and asked them—even though I knew what the problem was—what was wrong.

I had just played the version popularized by Terry Jacks in the 70s. And my students did not hear the Westlife version they expected to hear. They said it was baduy. But the people of the 70s liked this song, I told my students. How come they liked the Y2K version and not the 70s one? Their answer? Because they were different from the audience of Terry Jacks. And even though it was the same song with the same message, it was not going to “sell” to them because it was not their kind of music.

That’s when I reminded my students of what we had been studying the previous quarter. The gospels of Mark, Matthew, Luke and John, were essentially the same song with the same message but were written at different times for different audiences. Hence, they shouldn’t be surprised if the four gospels were very different in more than just a few aspects. And if they could not “get” a song written just 30 years earlier in the twentieth century, they would have to make even more of an effort to understand the gospels written in the first century.

I distributed copies of the lyrics and then I played the version all of them were waiting for. Many sang along and, in one class, some even got up and danced. Afterward, we discussed the significance of seasons and how it would be difficult for Filipinos to appreciate the importance to Americans of the changing of the seasons. The term black sheep resonated with quite a few of my students after I asked them whether a black-colored sheep would look at home in a family of white-colored sheep. Some even volunteered that they were the black sheep of their families.

After the English lesson, we went back to the Bible and agreed that there would be a lot of things we would not understand if we assumed that Jewish culture was the same as ours. And that it was important to remember that figures of speech existed even in the Bible. Jesus was not, in fact, literally a lamb.

Then I said, “Now that you’ve had your joy, you’ve had your fun, you’ve had your seasons in the sun, here are your test papers.” Welcome back to the real world!

Seasons of Love

During the next class, we used 1 Corinthians 7:1-13—“Love is patient and kind...”—for our regular let’s-read-the-Bible-together opening prayer. I knew they had gotten the results of their different tests and I wanted to assure them that they were more than the numbers—whether favorable or unfavorable—in their tests. That they were people, not numbers.

And of course, we had another song. This time I needed to explain that the song was from a Broadway musical called Rent, something similar to Miss Saigon (which was playing in Manila at that time). It was going to be a different kind of song, nothing a boy band would sing.

The lyrics were different too. I wrote the number 525600 on the board and asked my students what they thought it referred to. We did a little math and figured that it was equal to 365 days times 24 hours times 60 minutes. It was time to listen to the song. It asked if it was enough to measure life in daylights, in sunsets... in inches, in miles... How about love?

What could that mean? Seasons of love? Was it just referring to romantic love? Could there really be a winter, spring, summer or fall of love? And what season of love were they in at that point? Remember the love? What for? Wasn’t it much easier to take love for granted? Along with all the good things people did for us? And how exactly do you measure your life in love?

Missing the Point

They didn’t know it then but I had just prepared them for the test at the end of the quarter. The multiplication of the loaves (Matthew 6:34-44, 8:1-9) was going to play a very important role. I would go on in another class and tell them that maybe the numbers in the miracle stories were significant. That maybe someone really counted the people present, and that there were, in fact, exactly 4000 people present. Or that maybe it was meant figuratively—4 to represent the 4 corners of the world and 1000 to mean a great number of people. And five loaves and two fish? Add them up and you get 7. For 7 days of the week? Maybe...

And maybe we were missing the point. The miracle story—and the Bible—is not so much about numbers or facts or history as it is about God’s love for his people and the different responses to His love. But if we don’t know how to read the Bible, we may just think that the early Israelites lived and thought the way we do today. Or that everything written in the Bible is factually correct. Or that Jesus really was a lamb. And miss the point.

The last question in the quarterly test involved a saying I saw on a t-shirt: “Love is, like five loaves and two fish, always too little until you start giving it away.” In order to answer it correctly, the allusion to the five loaves and two fish had to be explained. But to leave it at that would not have sufficed. Because the Bible is not just about five loaves and two fish. Or miracles. Or parables. Or death and resurrection. The Bible is about love. And that’s the point.


FO: Statistics

The National Statistical Coordination Board is the best source for official statistics on various aspects of life in the Philippines. Some of the free resources available are:

  • StatWatch - a regularly updated summary of the most requested economic and demographic data;
  • ActiveStats - a collection of statistical and geographic databases (note: some are subscription-based); and
  • A View of the Philippines - a brief introduction to the geography, people, government and economy of the Philippines.
It has RSS and Mobile icons, but only the mobile feed was working when I visited the website.

Series: Filipiniana Online


FO: Ramon Magsaysay Awardees

The Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation (RMAF) is the institution that gives out the Magsaysay Awards for:

  • Government Service;
  • Public Service;
  • Community Leadership;
  • Journalism, Literature, and Creative Communication Arts;
  • Peace and International Understanding; and
  • Emergent Leadership.
It has been called the Asian Nobel Prize, and many Magsaysay Awardees have, in fact, gone on to win the Nobel Prize.

The RMAF website will be most helpful for those looking for information on the Magsaysay Awardees from the Philippines. Citations for each awardee are available, while responses, lectures, biographies, etc., may be accessed in some cases.

Librarians and teachers may also be interested in encouraging their students to join the Ramon Magsaysay Student Essay Competition The deadline for submission of entries is on July 30. Two national grand prizes worth P100,000 each for the college and high school winners will be given away.

And, of course, information about Ramon Magsaysay and RMAF history is also provided.

Series: Filipiniana Online



Cyberschoolbus, one of the best web sites for teachers on the Internet, is a global teaching and learning project of the United Nations. It provides "project materials, facts, resources, quizzes, features and forthcoming events."

The following will be useful references for librarians, teachers and students:

  • Country@aGlance provides basic information on a specific country, including its location, population and date of membership in the United Nations;
  • InfoNation allows users to compare and contrast statistics on population, economy, health, technology and education from up to six different countries at a time;
  • Model UN Headquarters gives details on how to set up a student organization patterned after the United Nations; and
  • Flag Tag turns the identification of country flags into a game that keeps track of scores, too.
The Philippines is mentioned specifically in:


Librarian Trivia

What comic book character is a librarian by day and sexy costumed fighter by night?

The answer is contained in the Librarian Trivia Quiz Screen Saver being given out by Elsevier at the Special Libraries Association 2005 Annual Conference. More interesting trivia is available, so do download the screensaver.

You may as well check out the free stuff for librarians available on their website: the Library Connect newsletter and practical assistance pamphlets on such topics as getting published in LIS journals and designing library websites. Most are still in pdf format, so you will need Adobe Reader if you wish to access them. But to see what you're missing—in case you don't want to download the free software—see "What's the Most Important Criterion You Use to Measure Success at Your Library?" in Library Connect 3:1 (April 2005).

Note: Please excuse the plug, but it's my way of thanking Elsevier for this chance to blog using the computers they provided for free at the lobby of the Metro Toronto Convention Center.



Filipinas Heritage Library

The Filipinas Heritage Library is a special library, specifically, "a one-stop electronic research center on the Philippines." While it is obviously a for-profit institution, it has some free resources worth looking at.

Its Filipiniana Collection includes some background on and translations of the National Anthem, the old and revised versions of the "Panatang Makabayan," and the full text of seven essays written by Gabriel Casal on "Ma'i," which is how the Chinese referred to the Philippines in pre-colonial times. Its Collection of Rare Books features "synopses and facsimiles of pages from selected titles."

And then there's LibraryLink, which provides "one search engine or point of entry for researchers and students who are doing research on Filipiniana." In other words, it's a union catalog for the Filipiniana collections of thirty member-libraries and one library network. Once users find the documents they need in the catalog, requests for inter-library loans may be coursed through the individual libraries.

Aside from its union catalog, users should also check out the Featured Articles, announcements on Seminars & Workshops and Talakayan, a forum for librarians and non-librarians (note: registration is required to participate in discussions, but it is not necessary to read the messages).


Public Libraries

The establishment and support for the maintenance of public libraries, particularly in the provinces and towns—and in the cities, for that matter—have remained the least concern of government, and yet it is they that could make a decisive difference in our life as a nation.

—"Public libraries for information and learning" by Hern Zenarosa (Manila Bulletin, 28 May 2005)
It's not very often that libraries are mentioned in newspapers, and so it's good that public libraries are the focus in this recent column. But I have to say that while I agree with Zenarosa that "public libraries could play a central role in educating and developing more responsible citizenry," it would have been better if he had given examples of how libraries can educate and develop a "more responsible citizenry."

He quotes "National Library Secretary Prudencia C. Cruz" (note: her official title is Director and her first name is Prudenciana) as saying: "Our leaders should change their perception of libraries as a simple financial burden on the government," but he does not say exactly how Cruz proposes to go about changing this perception.

Perhaps I expect too much from Zenarosa's short opinion piece, but the impression I get from his column is that nothing will happen to public libraries if the government does not move.

For more about the National Library's previous projects and plans, check out the following articles in the newsletter of the Conference of Directors of National Libraries in Asia and Oceania (CDNLAO):
Related post:

The National Library


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