Sunday, December 15, 2013

Thoughts on Cataloging and Filipiniana

Excuse these random, incoherent thoughts. I think I'm gonna start a series of posts on 'How a Library Works' as I get assigned in a university library's different sections. Next post will be about Technical Services...
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In my short stint in the Cataloging section, I noticed was most books by Filipinos were self-published. And these are great and well-written books of poetry and biographies! If only more people would know about them. (I noticed my shelves are full of books by foreign authors. Well, foreign books are much more readily available to us after all. But I wish that in the future, our books would outnumber the foreign ones.)

One thing I noticed while encoding books: you don't see a lot of long, big novels by Filipinos. What we usually have are textbooks, and poetry/essays/short fiction collections. It's also one thing I've noticed in the local book shop Precious Pages, that aside from short Tagalog romance novellas, the rest are mostly comics and graphic novels. I have yet to see Stephen King-style fat paperbacks. I did see a large romance/fantasy trilogy, but it was only one. Correct me if I'm wrong. When I asked my sister about it, she said that she thinks we don't have enough patience to write or read long books. But I'm not complaining, there are plenty of good writers and artists for those books.
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One thing that was taught to us in our Filipiniana subject was books published here, to use the term of our teacher, was 'fly by night'. They are published in a few copies and are fast out of print. So, to remedy this, the National Library has taken steps to enact laws like: authors should submit copies of their published books to the National Library.

In one of the books I read while in Cataloging, I came across an article written by a rare books collector, that we don't put much value in old books which are important historical sources. The bad thing is, its pretty difficult to keep track of them when there are very few copies existing, and sometimes these are the only evidence of history. He had seen owners whose old books live in haphazard conditions leading to damage. In what I've learned in our Archives subject, paper books have very specific requirements for preservation -- humidity and moisture must be controlled. And in our country with extremes in weather, these books stored carelessly in homes turn up in bad conditions. And there is a growing, expensive market outside the country for these books.

Did you know that the oldest copy of the Doctrina Christiana, the first published book in this country, is now in the Library of Congress? But not that I'm complaining exactly, because I think the LC can be trusted to preserve it well.

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