Saturday 25 April 2015

A visit to Cagayan de Oro City Library

Recently, I went to Cagayan de Oro in the Philippines to visit family over Easter, and I was lucky enough to spend some time in the local public library. As a recent graduate in both information studies and international studies, I have a special interest in the differences and similarities in library services between Australia and other countries. I was eager to use part of my trip to explore all the libraries in the local area, though due to a strict dress code (no shorts or short-sleeved t-shirts allowed!) I was unable to visit the adjacent Xavier University Library in addition to the public one.

Cagayan de Oro City Library is situated in the heart of the city, and offers community access to research materials, periodicals, online services and printing, and a collection of fiction and non fiction materials for both children and adults. Considering it is only a small library, I was impressed by the size of the childrens book collection, offering both fiction and learning materials specifically for primary aged children. The room was also well set up for conducting childrens activities and classes, with desks, a whiteboard, CD players and televisions. Unfortunately, no classes or activities are running at this time due to a lack of funding. 

 The Children's room 

The periodicals at CDO Library 

I was also interested in the Filipiniana Reference section, which offers members of the public the opportunity to research both local and national history from a rather diverse collection. As the Philippines is officially bilingual, the local library offers texts in the local dialect of Cebuano, the national language of Tagalog and in English. Having volunteered for about four months at Hurstville City Library in Sydney - another local library with an ethnically and culturally diverse community -  I have come to really appreciate the value of multilingual services in providing information access and creating a stronger and more inclusive local community. The inclusion of different language texts, and the Filipiniana Reference section, all point towards the librarys commitment to providing information access across all language barriers in the local area.

CDOs Filipiniana Reference section

CDO Library Computers
While in the library, I spoke with the technical librarian Darlaine about the future of Cagayan de Oro library and what changes she would like to see moving forward. Darlaine would like to reach out more to members of the public by offering classes and services, especially to those who dont have access to computers, books or other education materials. She would especially like to organise a summer storytelling program for young children, since schools in the Philippines has long summer breaks between April and June. She also would like to gain more sponsoring in order to gain more computers, since public access to the internet is a priority in Cagayan de Oro City.

 For me, the experience of visiting Cagayan de Oro City library has further reiterated the importance of libraries in bringing literacy and technology programs to the community. Australian libraries are very lucky to be able to fund a diverse range of programs, such as the ones I have seen as a volunteer for Hurstville City Library in Sydney. I would like to see Darlaine and the other librarians in Cagayan de Oro achieve their goal of raising funding for these types of programs in the future. 

Darlaine, technical librarian at CDO library

Darlaine is hoping to attend the Tech 4 Ed conference this year, which is tied with the American Library Association. If selected by a committee, she will complete training beforehand at the  National Library of the Philippines in Manila. I wish her all the best!

Eleanor Gerrard
Event Officer, ALIA Sydney

Wednesday 15 April 2015

Sweeter than fiction

I was a gay teenager in the age of date due stamps
I wish being gay was a Taylor Swift song. In the mid-1990s when I was fifteen and listening to Alanis Morissette, growing up being gay was hard. I lived in a small western suburbs town at a time when Pauline Hanson made prejudice popular and my classmates thought being gay was something to be ashamed of. For me high school was a miserable little world where I felt like an X-File.
But I wasn’t rescued by Mulder and Scully. I was saved by my local public library. Their collection of short story books written for gay teenagers rescued me from an isolating adolescence and taught me about community. I summoned all the courage I had in taking those short story books to the loans desk to have them stamped with their due date. I would hide them between less ‘conspicuous’ items in the days before self-checkers made it easy to move in and out of the library, sharing its collections with anonymity. In 1996 at the loans desk of my local public library I had to face a real person, someone who would know I was reading books about being gay. And that was terrifying.

As a gay teenager in the age of date due stamps I found community not only in the books I read, but in the date due slips glued to their title pages. Those pieces of white paper stamped with black ink were like proof of life on Mars. They were how I knew I wasn’t the only one reading books like Hide & Seek: Stories about being young and gay/lesbian or Ready or Not: Stories about young adult sexuality. Everything I felt was being felt by other young women and other young men in my community. That is the difference my local public library made for me.

Our date due stamps didn’t survive the new millennium but as a gay teenager in the mid-1990s, before social media or television shows like Glee, the due dates I found stamped inside the covers of my library books gave me hope I wasn’t an X-File. I was just one due date on a slip stamped with many. Maybe knowing that was like a Taylor Swift song because knowing you’re not alone is sweeter than fiction.
-Anne Reddacliff @AMoodiLibrarian
Librarian; Event Officer ALIA Sydney

For more about LGBTI YA fiction or providing library services to LGBTI youth: