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Notes on the 1st National Conference of Children's Librarians

by Anton C. Lecaros

Success! Goodnight. These were the sentiments of National Library of the Philippines (NLP) staff as the first national conference of children's librarians drew to a close after weeks of hectic planning and organizing.

The participants themselves were drained, having come from near and far and dreading their commutes home in the ever-unpredictable Manila weather. Nevertheless, everyone went home well-fed, better informed, and raring to put what they'd learned into practice.

The conference, first of what is hoped to be an annual gathering of children’s librarians, school teachers and everyone involved in children’s information services, was held on October first and second to kick off National Children's Month. The event's theme, “Redefining Children's Services in Libraries, Schools, and Communities”, was chosen to reflect our modern understanding of children and the constantly evolving role of librarians in the information age. The keynote address was given by Ms Emelita Almosara, Executive Director of the NCCA.

Several of the conference's speakers gave talks about how librarians, authors and storytellers can contribute toward fostering a love of books in today's multimedia-obsessed children. No less than Dean Dina Ocampo of the UP College of Education and PBBY President Zarah C. Gagatiga recommended their favorite children's books. Notably, the books were by Filipino authors, as they shared a view later reiterated by DepEd's Galileo Go: that children are more likely to make reading a part of their lives if the texts are in their native language and context.

Other speakers, such as Rizalina Labanda of the International Reading Association (IRA), and Philippine Association of School Librarians (PASLI) President Marion Gorospe, discussed different techniques and approaches for reaching children, including games, eResources, and traditional storytelling. Marie Joyce Lopez, from Resources for the Blind, Inc. also contributed to this line of discussion by covering methods for helping differently-abled users.

The National Library's own Dolores D. Carungui spoke about approaches for handling young library users – a very different discipline from that required to help researchers. Storytelling demos were also given by NLP Children's Section (NLP CS) front liners Melanie Ramirez and Kristine Jacinto to raucous applause. Ms Jacinto also joined Ms Cristine Alcantara (Nueva Ecija Provincial Library) in reporting on their recent study trip to Seoul, where they had joined other ASEAN member countries to exchange ideas and experiences about children's librarianship.. The NLP was also fortunate to receive special guest, Ms Anne Mimille Guzman, a children's book author recently graduated from the Philippine High School of the Arts.

It is the NLP's pleasure to report that public and private institutions were equally well represented at the conference. Regardless, there is always room to improve, and thanks to delegates' suggestions and the experience gained in this first outing, everyone can expect a bigger, better conference for children's librarians next year!


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