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PLAI Congress 2009:
Observations from an American Librarian

The 2009 Philippine Librarians Association, Inc. (PLAI) National Congress was held last 25-27 November 2009 at Heritage Hotel Manila. There are lots of photos at PLAI-STRLC (1 2 3 4) and The Multiplying Gorilla (1 2 3), but very little commentary. Fortunately, another librarian was taking notes. If anyone else would like to write a guest post for this blog about the PLAI Congress or any other library-related topic, send me an email at von-dot-totanes-at-gmail-dot-com.

by John Hickok

John HickokI was delighted to attend the 2009 PLAI Congress. As a U.S. Librarian, I have attended many library conferences, but this was my first time to attend a PLAI conference. I am no stranger to Philippine libraries, as I first began researching libraries in the Philippines in 2005 with a research grant, and have made return visits, plus kept continued ties with many Philippine libraries, since. Also, as chair of the American Library Association International Relations Roundtable Orientation Committee, it was my pleasure to bring brochures and flyers from ALA, on paper/poster opportunities available to Philippine librarians.

The 3-day PLAI congress was most informative. The theme was environmental sustainability thru libraries, and a variety of experts on environmental topics presented, including ways of "going green" by Prof. Antonio Oposa of UP, and legal issues of sustainability for libraries, by Atty. Noel Ramiscal, also of UP. Aside from the program, the congress's venue (meals, location, etc.) were very nice at the Heritage Hotel Manila.

No conference is without a few challenges, of course. One was several late or absent speakers. Another was practical application to libraries. I spoke with several librarians attending, and asked them how they were enjoying it. They said "It's good... there was lots of good information on pollution, waste, etc... but we know that. We want more SPECIFIC suggestions on what, exactly, libraries should do." I was impressed with their motivation and interest. Environmental issues are ones that U.S. libraries struggle with as well.

As I continue my cross-cultural, comparative research on Philippine libraries and libraries of other Asian countries, I'll be sure and share my findings through this blog. My heartfelt appreciation to the organizers of the PLAI Congress for their hospitality in welcoming me, and to the many wonderful librarians I met and reunited with. Philippine hospitality is absolutely amazing! Thank you all! Maraming salamat po!

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