Reflecting on Virtual and Brick and Stone Libraries | April 20, 2011

“The times they are achanging.” Librarians know this as well as most people do.

They are aware that the needs of users for libraries have changed and so libraries have to change too, and adapt to the needs of the communities that they serve. The changes in librarianship are more than changes in the types of materials offered. Librarians today are challenged to make their libraries relevant by using different forms of resources and skills to attract readers. Because of advancement in technology, library managers need to recognize the proliferation of information sites and the capability of search engines to access those sites. Thus, librarians must reflect on how to adapt to the expanding role of the computer and its role in the creation, use, and sharing of information.
The Silsilah Dialogue Institute (SDI) Library was started 25 years ago and is in this stage of reflection, looking at the importance of sharing relevant materials on culture, religion, dialogue and peace which are the main areas in its collection. Over the years the SDI Library has served walk-in researchers from the Philippines, students of the annual Summer Course and nationals of other countries who have visited Silsilah for exposure and immersion.
One of the important considerations in this reflection is how the SDI Library can continue its mission as it faces the challenges of today and how strong collaboration and partnership with other libraries in this part of the region can be effected.
For this reason on April 16, 2011 a gathering of librarians in Zamboanga City was organized. The gathering also served to celebrate the 25th year of the SDI Library. Some 33 librarians coming from public, academic and special libraries in Zamboanga City came to attend the event.
Two respected members of the profession were speakers for the event. Emilia R. Natividad, Librarian of the Zamboanga City Library, was invited to share her thoughts on the topic “Information: The Libraries of Zamboanga City Today”.

Benhur A. Asid, Chief Librarian of Southern City Colleges and an Exec on member of National Commission on Libraries and Information Services (NCLIS)-National Commission on Culture and Arts (NCCA) talked on the theme for the gathering, “The Mission of Libraries Today”.  He said, “The libraries of tomorrow, like the libraries of today, will be shaped by two forces: (1) materials and their nature, and (2 )library users, how they learn and read for us to continue our library missions of today,  providing quality and relevant information through books and information technology at the right time and to  the right user.”

The group gave recommendations for future collaboration among the different libraries, among which were:
· to provide a space for Silsilah books and publications section in their libraries;
· be part of a consortium to fully serve the people in providing access and sharing of materials;
· to tap librarians for future activities of SDI who can facilitate in giving instructional aid and materials for library use.
Silsilah is grateful to the Ateneo de Zamboanga University whose library has been very supportive in assisting the SDI Library in terms of developing the library system and sharing important information.
SDI Library continues to seek ways to improve its capacity to provide people access to its rich collection on religion, culture, dialogue and peace. It is hoped that technology can be an effective way to realize this objective.

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