Saturday, September 28, 2013

Another library tour around Iloilo

The tour yesterday (Sept. 27) was supposed to be for the second-years only, but included all BLIS students so each of us can pay lesser for the trip. Not that exciting but tiring, and except for 2 places (stops 2 & 4) I’ve been in most of them. The other schools were cancelled due to heavy rains. We went to UP Miag-ao, Makinaugalingon Press, San Agustin, Provincial Libray, and Museo Iloilo.

Stop 1: UPV Miag-ao Library
Been here, studied here, have borrowed memorable books here. I realized that as a previous library user only, it’s difficult to see the everyday nitty-gritty details of library work (hence the “librarians have it easy” misconception). University librarians are a busy lot: accreditation, buying books, budgeting, processing books, reader’s services, updating databases...

When I go to other university libraries I can’t help but compare it to how much Henry Luce III Library of our school lags behind when it comes to technology. Sure, we have a good security system and extensive collections, but the library database isn’t fully utilized and experienced programmers are lacking. I’d like quick check-in, automatic book return, and automated log-in I see in other schools, where students don’t have to write their names but only scan their IDs.

UP Libraries I will always see as the best example to follow when it comes to IT. They have a very good database developed by themselves (iLib). CPU is using Destiny, and there is an expensive subscription to pay for that. Most students complain about the library fee and don’t realize what they’re paying for (that’s why they are told where it goes during orientations, but with the thousands of students in CPU I guess only a handful of freshmen attend).

The best software I found UPV librarians use is their modified version of CDS-ISIS. It is for academic texts such as theses, papers, and journal articles and is useful for those doing research. Abstracts are important, it’s what researchers will first read in order to determine if the whole study or text will be useful for them, and students have the option to print it for their use. ISIS is actually an old software from the 90s but they updated it. CPU had it but it’s gone. As someone writing a thesis now, it was difficult to sort through too many physical hard-bound theses because the library didn’t have an adequate database.

Actually, theses can also be accessed by the OPAC, but I find CDS-ISIS more convenient because it is specialized for research works. On the OPAC, there is still the mess of other library resources included and sorting through that is a hassle.

(Which reminds me that if I eventually have a career as a librarian, I’d have to study more about computers. The curriculum of BLIS in CPU is now revised for more IT subjects, and we’re in the old curriculum.)

Stop 2: Makinaugalingon Printing Press
Toured through the details of a printing business. They have two creative departments for designing: one for school yearbooks, another for the rest. We went up a dark room where they print the image plate to use for actual reproduction, then to the many printing machines smelling of ink. Last stop was the binding area where there were large, odd machines for cutting, folding, sewing, binding, and covering books.

Stop 3: University of San Agustin Library & Archives
For me, this library has the best design of all libraries in the city I’ve been in, with large wooden desks and old chairs that look like they’re from another era but are comfortable. There are classic-looking pillars within the reading area, supporting a high ceiling, and the walls are lined with paintings of important friars, national heroes, and famous writers... giving both an inspiring and intimidating effect. The collection and electronic databases are used and promoted effectively. The library is almost full and one can see many students using the library.

Stop 4: Iloilo Provincial Library
The Iloilo Library has been transferred so many times that we were not sure where it was. Can you guess where it is? Pass? It’s under the bleachers of the Iloilo Sports Complex! It was transferred only recently, and the place is temporary. Who knows where it will be next. The librarian herself is irritated, but well, you know the government.

It was good, actually. They have a book mobile program that travels to areas which don’t have access to books. Inside, there are separate sections for: Children’s, Periodicals, Government documents, General Collection, and Archives. The only problem I can see is lack of promotion or marketing to the citizens. After all, most who know about it are government employees too (but even then, I wonder if they know where it is).

Stop 5: Museo Iloilo
The artifacts are the same since I was a kid who took art workshops here. But they have repainted the place, rearranged the old saints, put up nicer-looking infographics. The new thing I liked is the floor to ceiling hanging cloth paintings of an ancient Philippine map, a Pintados, and a man in colonial clothing. The best thing to see is the gallery, they have new exhibits from Ilonggo artists every few months.

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