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Greetings colleagues,

September is now concluded, and with it, my second country visit: the Philippines!
My original itinerary was to visit universities in multiple cities (on different islands), but I amended that to stay mostly in the metro Manila area, since the majority of Philippine universities are there.

The Philippines is a wonderful country with the most gracious hospitality. Philippine libraries have made incredible advances … but also still have many challenges to address. Some observations:

• Professional status. Librarians in the Philippines enjoy a professional status much different from their colleagues in Indonesia (as I mentioned in my August report). They lobbied for this status in the early 1990s, and achieved it, but it took a form similar to that of doctors and lawyers — a government licensing exam in order to be professionally licensed or certified to work. A bachelor’s in library science is needed to sit for the exam, but at the academic level, an MLIS [masters in library and information science] is increasingly being expected as well. Two universities in the Philippines offer MLIS degrees.

• Resources/Services. Libraries at the top universities in the Philippines are strong. In Manila, for example, the University of the Philippines (public) and DeLaSalle University (private) would be analogous to UCLA and USC in Los Angeles. Both have large book collections, full automation (one even using Millennium, like us), etc. But at smaller universities, the gulf of quality widens, sometimes dramatically. At the pre-university level (secondary schools), libraries struggle; sometimes with no budget at all, and often no librarian (just a teacher volunteering).

• Library instruction. Orientation/tours for new students are very common, but formal instruction sessions and workshops are not. Why? Several reasons. Library instruction is not a heavy part of LIS [library and information science] curriculum. There is still a strong tradition in the universities that “only professors teach.” And at many libraries, a feeling of reactive rather than proactive instruction is common (i.e., help students as they come, in a reference setting, rather than in the form of group instruction sessions).
These are only a few observations, of course. I collected much more information during my weeks of interviews and site-visits.

I hope all is well in Fullerton. I’m on to my next research location of Singapore/Malaysia for October. By the way, in case you heard the news about the recent bombings in Bali, Indonesia, yes, I was there during August. But thankfully, it was trouble-free while I was there.

Regards to you all,