IN THE PHILIPPINES
By Prudenciana C. Cruz
The National Library of the Philippines (NLP) is the repository of the country's printed and recorded cultural, intellectual, literary and other information materials. To this end, it pursues the objectives of:
The NLP is located in the heart of Manila. The public libraries
all over the country are located in their respective localities.
For the record, public libraries statistics reveal that as of this writing,
there are a total of 949 public libraries from the northern province in
Batanes to the southernmost province of Tawi-Tawi. These are divided
into the following:
How does the NLP maintain its linkage with the above 949 public libraries?
How are the similarity of interests continued?
Republic Act 7743
This Act is titled "An Act Providing for the Establishment of Congressional, City and Municipal Libraries and Barangay Reading Centers Throughout the Philippines, Appropriating the Necessary Funds Therefor and for Other Purposes." It was approved by both houses of Congress on June 1, 1994 and approved by then President Fidel V. Ramos on June 17, 1994.
Of course, it did not mean that no such kind of libraries existed in the past. In fact, many public libraries have long histories. The law only means that each local government unit is required to put up a public library in their area. Since the establishment of the law, the increase in the number of public libraries has grown steadily, though many local government units still have no libraries of their own.
It is very interesting to find out the rate of increase of the public libraries established. For example, in 1997, three years after the passage of the law, city libraries totaled 47. In 2001, 73 city libraries existed. In the span of four years, 26 city libraries were added, quite a good feat. As of this writing, however, city libraries total 79, which means only an addition of six since last year. And yet, there are at present 100 cities in the Philippines; there are 29 cities remaining without libraries and that only 79% has been accomplished by the law regarding city libraries.
The case of the municipal libraries is more dismal. At present, there are 1,509 municipalities all over the country. Of these, only 507 have their own libraries, or a little less than 33% has been realized by the law.
The culprit, of course, is not that there is a lack of appreciation for libraries among the officials of these local government units. It is the funding of the local government unit concerned that is needed to be able to establish a library. Local governments must supply the funds before a library can be established. Without the express provision of the local government, any library cannot exist.
But the trend is that many local governments without libraries are trying hard and hoping that the funds come in, or that they realize an increase in their local revenues to be able to put up a library.
For local governments with libraries, the NLP
coordinates with the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG)
in the maintenance and improvement of the library concerned. On the
part of the National Library, its role includes the following:
From budget allocations: 8,212 books
and 286 encyclopedia sets
As a result, the collections of the public libraries
have increased. For 2001, the total collections of public libraries
all over the Philippines have reached 1,004,707 volumes of books, 30,631
serial copies, and 49,929 other kinds of library materials. Because
of such, the number of readers using these libraries have increased to
1,214,478 while cardholders numbered 44,180.
To extend library services to localities with no libraries, the NLP gave 13 bookmobiles to 13 corresponding politico-administrative regions of the country. These bookmobiles are mini-libraries moving around remote barangays and sitios bringing to the barriofolks and barrio children books and magazines for their educational needs. At least, these services are helpful to the remote communities not accessible by land transportation.
On the other hand, these mobile libraries are
not always going the rounds daily. Sometimes, there are snags in
the schedule because of unavailability of transport funds for gasoline,
or the vehicle itself has to be repaired. In the province of Basilan,
the bookmobile cannot always go as it pleases because war zones have been
virtually established caused by the Abu Sayyaf hostage-taking sprees.
The Annual Conferences
The NLP schedules two general conferences with the public librarians yearly. These two conferences take place in March and in November. These two occasions which regularly last for three days constitute a kind of reunion and reestablishment of ties among co-librarians. But the conferences in which librarians listen to speakers talk and discuss on issues that concern librarians is also a chance for them to be heard personally regarding their problems in their turf.
The March conference is more or less timed with
the celebration of Public Library Day, March 9, the day when the private-sponsored
American Circulating Library was turned over to the government and thus
became a government entity, evolving later into the National Library.
Sometimes, this first annual conference is set on other days but still
scheduled in March. The most exciting March conference was celebrated
in the year 2000, the centennial of the National Library. On this
occasion, 15 public libraries received plaques and cash as well as "Outstanding
Public Libraries." The awardees included:
The second annual conference is in November.
Last year, 2001, the public librarians had the opportunity to listen to
former President Corazon Aquino as the conference's guest speaker.
The Conference also launched the book co-authored by the recently retired
NLP Director, Adoracion Mendoza (formerly Bolos). The book is a descriptive
profile of the public libraries in Metro Manila and of Region 1 (consisting
of four provinces, namely: Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, La Union, and
The Public Libraries Information Network
Launched in 1999, this network links the National Library and the public libraries in terms of sharing information and materials through the computer. The local library gets substantial benefit because it does not have to have the material or document requested by a patron but simply requests the local library which has it to share it through the computer link-up. It can also be shared by recording information in diskettes, or by faxing in case a fax machine exists.
In this regard, the public librarians must be trained on use of computers and on the softwares relevant to library work. For 2001, batches of trainings on the software Library Solution System (L.S.S.) and of TINLIB were scheduled with a number of trainees from various regions coming to the National Library.
To monitor PUBLIN developments in the regions,
some librarians in the NLP conduct inspection visits. In charge of
this monitoring visits is the Bibliographic Services Division of the NLP
which extends technical assistance on computer problems, both software
and hardware. Besides these, on-the-spot trainings are extended on
library processes and other areas of library work such as collection development,
cataloguing, and bibliographic services whenever needed by the local public
Towards Contributing to the Educational and Cultural Growth of the Community
The public libraries support the educational and cultural goals of the Philippine government. As an educational agency, the NLP and the public libraries caters to the information needs of patrons. Through the books, newspapers, magazines, and documents in the libraries, patrons broaden their knowledge on history both national and local, of famous Filipinos, developing in them a sense of national pride and love of country. Their reading and visits to the libraries also develop in the patrons interest for reading and stimulate in them a desire for knowledge. In the process, their research skills are also developed, as patrons go through the tasks of looking for the entries at the OPAC machine, or in guides and checklists which the librarians come up as service to the reading public.
Not only Philippine life and culture is up for viewing but public libraries also display exhibits to expose the public to life in other countries so that Filipinos in every community will gain additional knowledge on other countries as well.
Public libraries are also in the forefront of whatever cultural activity is launched and implemented by the local government. They put up exhibits and accommodate exhibits of other government agencies. They construct booths for this purpose where the different facets of Philippine life and culture, its customs and traditions, material or spiritual, are displayed to the interested viewers. Public libraries are required to enhance library consciousness of the public by not only putting up exhibits and booths but also conducting programs and other activities to commemorate National Book Week, and other such events related to the love for reading and the libraries.
In other words, the NLP and the public libraries are not just repositories of collections; they are also involved actively in the nurturance and enhancement of the educational and cultural development of the Filipino people.
All Rights reserved. Copyright (c) National Library of the Philippines, 2002