(Courtesy of National Library of the Philippines Facebook)

MANILA – As the country observes the Library and Information Services (LIS) Month this November, a senator has come up with the idea of putting up a Philippine Online Library to ensure that learning materials remain pandemic-proof.

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian proposed the creation of the online library under Senate Bill No. 477.

Under the measure, the Department of Education (DepEd) shall create a digital copy of all textbooks and reference books it deems necessary for public education.

The books shall be compiled in the Philippine Online Library, which shall be jointly managed by the DepEd and the Department of Information and Communications Technology.

“Matitiyak natin na magkakaroon ang mga mag-aaral at mga guro ng access sa mas maraming mga aklat. Sa ganitong paraan, matitiyak natin na magpapatuloy ang edukasyon makaranas man tayo ng kalamidad o mga sakuna (We can ensure that learners and teachers will have access to a greater number of books. This way, education continues even if there are calamities or disasters),” Gatchalian said in a news release on Saturday.

To complement the Philippine Online Library, the DepEd may utilize additional materials from the National Library of the Philippines (NLP), which should be representative of Filipino culture and literature, and add other materials it deems necessary for expanding learning opportunities.

Gatchalian recalled learners’ dependence on printed modules when distance learning was implemented because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

In 2021, a commissioned survey by the World Bank on low-income households revealed that 95.5 percent used paper-based learning modules and materials despite the availability of digital learning materials and platforms such as the DepEd Commons.

Gatchalian, chair of Committee on Basic Education, said digital education tools help learners catch up and bridge learning gaps caused by school disruptions.

“By making libraries pandemic-proof, learners can access a broader range of textbooks and materials, while teachers can reach out to marginalized learners,” Gatchalian said.

The LIS Month directs public awareness to the invaluable service that libraries and information centers render for knowledge, learning, research and leisure.

On Monday, the NLP will conduct a seminar titled “Importance of Conservation of Cultural Properties” at 1 p.m. at its auditorium on T. M. Kalaw Street in Ermita, Manila.

Resource speaker and Master Conservator Ephraim Jose will talk about his substantial knowledge and experience in restoring and mounting Asian works on paper and fabric, especially in the art conservation traditions of Japan and the Himalayan thangka (Tibetan Buddhist painting) conservation efforts, according to the NLP.

The “Exhibit of Rare Books and Manuscripts” is also ongoing on the second floor until Nov. 29, featuring diverse rare collections of NLP like original manuscripts of Dr. Jose Rizal and his works Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo, and his original poem, Mi Ultimo Adios. (PNA)