Lessons from Library Work

When I was a child, I thought that working in a library would be the best thing in the world. I’d be surrounded by books that I can read whenever I wanted to, and best of all, there wouldn’t be that much contact with people because hey, I’m dealing with books. Friends who are book lovers or know my love for books and reading would agree and express their delight that I am actually now working in a library.

It couldn’t be more further from the truth.

Fact 1: Not all the books in the library are materials you want to read
I work in an academic library, one that caters specifically to engineering students and faculty. Almost all of the books we have in the collection are technical books. I haven’t seen a single fiction or leisure reading book, unless you consider handbooks and technical materials leisure reading.

However, the library also has some special interest books, like website design, game design, management and the like, that I wouldn’t mind reading during my spare time. But that makes up just perhaps 10% of the whole collection. There are also some books that are useful for my masters, but again, not really leisure reading.

The magazines are another matter though. While we have a lot of specialized magazines, journals and periodicals dealing with engineering subjects, there are also general interest titles like Time, Reader’s Digest and National Geographic. Those are the ones I definitely want to read.

Fact 2: You will handle books and people
My first designation when I started the job was with the circulation section, where we handle the borrowing and returning of books, among other things. I handled books, but I am always in contact with the people using the library. Sure, I could probably just not talk to them as I go about my tasks, but since the library is a service oriented institution, you have to talk to them.
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Filipino Friday #4: This is still reading, right?

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The question for this week’s Filipino Friday is, in my interpretation, all about technology.

Do you read (or have at least tried to read) books in other formats aside from print? How was your experience with these different book formats?

I’ve started reading ebooks long before I had an ebook reader or a smartphone. I had pdf or lit files that I’d read on my computer. These were books that were mostly free, and stuff that I don’t normally see in bookstores (because they were from indie writers and publishers).

I got a Kindle Touch as a birthday gift from my aunt and since then, I think 90% of the books I’ve read were digital versions. I still buy printed books, but because of my recent lack of space at home and smaller budget, ebooks are space and cost efficient alternatives.

Thanks to the Kindle, I have no problems with ebooks. I hated reading on my laptop because it was bulky, and after a while my eyes hurt from the screen’s glare. Same goes with my phones. The Kindle was easy on the eyes and lightweight. I guess so long as I have that, reading digital books won’t be such a problem for me. Also, here is a somewhat related post.

I have tried audiobooks, but it wasn’t for me. If I listen to an audiobook in bed, I end up falling asleep even before the chapter’s done. If I listen to it while trying to do chores, I don’t understand anything. I did try to listen to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, specifically, the chapter about Harry’s 18th birthday. I eventually memorized the first five or so paragraphs — because I kept starting there and I’d be asleep around that part.

Of course, printed books will always be the priority, but ebooks on a proper ebook reader is a very close second.

Also… just a friendly reminder, ReaderCon is on November 9!!!!

Filipino ReaderCon 2013

Filipino Friday #3: The Pinoy Book Drop

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As much as I wanted to participate in the book drop activity, I couldn’t. Happily, there’s two questions in today’s Filipino Friday so the non-participants can join in still.

Tell us about your most memorable or favorite book hunting experience. Have you ever found a book in a most unexpected place? If you find a dropped book somewhere, what would you do with it? Where do you get your books nowadays? Do you still go to bookstores, or do you buy/order books online?

My main source of books are still the bookstores. They’re easy to go to and these days, many already have the latest releases nearly on the same date as the Western releases, so it’s not hard to find something you want. I can’t think of a specific memorable book buying/hunting experience though. I’d like to think that each trip I take for books is fun and memorable in its own way.

I do, however, love visiting secondhand bookstores and diving into the bargain bins. I also love exploring places along Recto that sell used books, but many of which are still in fairly good condition. These places are also where I find books that are no longer in print, or haven’t been reprinted and sold in the regular shops. It’s also a great place to find good books at bargain prices. I love looking for books here so much that I have a post about secondhand bookstores and buying books from there.

I’ve had plenty of luck finding great books in bargain bins and secondhand bookstores. I’ve been able to complete series thanks to these jaunts. My friends have taken to bringing me along when they want to find specific books, because I somehow uncannily find them without really exerting much effort.

I’ve done some buying of books online too, but this is mostly for secondhand books as well. The only books I’ve bought over sites like Amazon are digital books, which I read over my Kindle.

If I find a dropped book, I definitely take it home and read it. Unless, it’s something that I’ve read before and then I’d probably leave it for some other person to find. On that note, I’ll try to drop a book over the weekend. Just because the Filipino Friday question has been done, doesn’t mean I can’t continue it. 😀

Filipino ReaderCon 2013

Don’t forget that the 3rd Filipino ReaderCon: What Do Readers Want? will be on November 9, 2013, 8:00am to 6:00pm at the Rizal Library of the Ateneo de Manila University. See you there.

Filipino Friday (2): Kids and Books

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This week’s Filipino Friday question is something close to my heart. Well, it is books so that’s a given, but it’s also about children’s books (which I’d include young adult fiction).

What were your favorite books as a kid or while you were growing up? Do you still read children’s books? If you could give your younger self a book to read, what would it be?

Difficult, difficult question. I had a lot of favorite books when I was a kid. Every weekend my parents would let me buy one toy or book, and my godmother/aunt would give me books every birthday and Christmas. Not to mention the people I could borrow books from: other aunts and uncles, friends, the library.

I suppose if I had to trim it down, my favorite books would be the works of Enid Blyton, my Lolo’s big book of stories, the Nancy Drew series and Sweet Valley Twins. Enid Blyton was the first British writer I’ve ever read, so at a young age I was already aware of pixies and brownies and lorries and bobbies. Her stories were those of mischievous kids and other-world beings that spoke of grand adventures, treasure hunts and mysteries.

Nancy Drew, of course, is a classic. To a young girl, she embodied the “girl power” kind of mantra. Because Nancy goes out and solves mysteries, fights bad guys and always wins in the end. The Sweet Valley series gave me glimpse into a world very different from my own. Middle school (or in my case, Intermediate) for me didn’t have cliques or bullies or cheering squads. Girls and boys don’t date (but crushes are all right) and we were still kids by Pinoy standards, but in Sweet Valley, twelve seems so mature.

The book my grandpa had was one he brought home from the time he studied in the U.S. It’s a very thick book filled with hundreds of stories: some fairy tales, some excerpts from other works, some adaptations and the like. Unfortunately, someone borrowed it and lost it, which breaks my heart.

Ok, I’ll stop at these because if I don’t, this post will reach a thousand words. 😛

Young Adult Books
Couple of YA books that I have, still fairly new. The rest I’ve got stashed back in Zamables.

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Aklatan 2013: The First All-Filipino Book Festival

Book fairs aren’t an unusual thing here in the Philippines, what with the Manila International Book Fair happening every year, and smaller reader and book cons organized by book enthusiasts all over the metro. Last September 7 was The Day for Filipino book lovers, Aklatan 2013.

What makes Aklatan notable is that it’s the first all-Filipino book fair in the country. Writers Ricky Lee and Eros Atalia said in a panel with Lourd de Veyra and Carlo Vergara said that they wanted to have a book event where local writers and their works were the stars. Ricky Lee felt that many local writers were often sidelined by foreign writers even in local events. Bookstores, while they carry Filipino titles, often lump them together as “Filipinana”, and making them more invisible to the public.

With Aklatan, Filipino writers, authors and publishers as well as their readers, are the stars.

I arrived just in time for the contemporary writer’s panel featuring the aforementioned writers. As expected, it was a laugh-trip talk but full of insights into these particular writers’ minds. In between the jokes and stories of Sir Ricky, Eros, Carlo and Lourd, were pieces of advice that were worth noting.

Depth vs. Variety
Ricky Lee is known to many Filipinos first and foremost as a screenwriter, and the books he had published were related to that field (“Trip to Quiapo” was an invaluable resource for me back in college). But to the younger generation, he is known as an author, a fact which he is pretty thankful for.

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This Book Life: 34th Manila International Book Fair

I deliberately skipped the Manila International Book Fair for the main reason that my finances will not support the foray into book heaven (or hell, whichever you prefer). Aklatan proved to be friendly to the wallet, as I concentrated on getting only two books and the ebook bundle, but I feared that MIBF was fiercer.

I ended up going there yesterday before lunch just so I could make the cut-off for the Harry Potter raffle. I was an hour late meeting my friend Ching (and I got reprimanded for it), and it was raining like hell. Not to mention that the MoA area was crowded: probably thousands of people were there for different events: MIBF, Best of Anime, the UAAP Cheerdance Competition, the SM 3-Day Sale… chaos.

Luckily, the line for tickets were short. I used my student discount, and once I was in, I made a beeline for the National Bookstore section. With the crowd, I was waffling on getting a copy of the new Harry Potters, but at the last minute I did, and I got a raffle ticket. Ching got one as well, and she also got a poster (which she later gave to me! Weee!). There were a lot of collectibles and Harry Potter memorabilia too, though I wasn’t really able to see them *sad face*

Times like these I wish I stayed more active in the HP community.

Potterheads
Potterheads surround the booth

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