Today we may welcome Von Totanes to the circle of Libworld guest authors.
He will give us an understanding of the blogosphere of the Philippines. You can reach his weblog “Filipino Librarian” themed “I can’t change Filipino librarians, but I can change the way you look at us” at http://filipinolibrarian.blogspot.com.
The Filipino – or Pinoy – blogosphere became a force to be reckoned with in 2005, when the confluence of events in politics, journalism and technology served to highlight the potential of blogging as an alternative to more traditional media. It was early during that same year when I discovered that while a few librarians were already blogging, none of them were blogging as librarians. And so, Filipino Librarian was born.
The biggest difficulty that needs to be overcome at this point for blogging to become a truly alternative form of mass media in the Philippines is the digital divide. The most obvious problem is that only about 16 percent of the population is using the Internet, with the greater majority not able to even afford access to a computer because they’re too busy worrying about what they will eat for their next meal. A lesser problem is the fact that those who do have access to computers are not necessarily computer-literate. The same is true of libraries and librarians.
Many libraries in the Philippines don’t have computers, and of those that do, not all the librarians are computer-literate. Then there are librarians who can surf the Internet, but use word processing software to index books and documents because they don’t know how to use databases or even spreadsheets. There are, however, a few libraries and librarians who are able to maximize the use of their computers and the Internet. Some of them have blogs.
There are now more than just a few blograrians who write consistently – if not exclusively – about library matters. These include School Librarian in Action, whose appointment as library director may have had something to do with the fact that she blogs; naga librarian and the 1,141 public libraries, a public librarian from the provinces who only started blogging recently; and Events in My Life, which as the blog’s name indicates is a mixture of the personal and professional events in the life of a librarian who also happens to be a poet.
Some libraries and library associations have begun using blogs as online newsletters, of which the most frequently updated are What’s New in the IRRI Library and the PLAI-Southern Tagalog Region Librarians Council. But perhaps the most promising use of a blog by a library is the one called EMC Online 2.0, which takes advantage of blogging as a multimedia platform AND is appropriately hip and cool enough to appeal to its primary audience of teenage high school boys.
When I started blogging, I hoped that other librarians would see how easy it was and start blogging, too. Well, this has already happened, and while some focus more on their personal lives or have discontinued their blogs, all of these plus those that are still around have helped raise awareness of what librarians do in the Pinoy blogosphere. Some blogs, like mine, consistently get more hits from non-librarians because of some posts written for “library users” surfing the Internet. Job Openings and Career Development for librarians has also shown that a blog can be an effective means to match employers and employees.
All of these provide hope that Philippine libraries and Filipino librarians will eventually be able to utilize blogging in ways that those on the other, more privileged, side of the digital divide already have.