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CILA: Issue 1, Rhoda Bautista

Issue 1, March 2018

My name is Rhona Ortega Bautista, the Head Librarian of Union Church of Manila since July 2005. I finished my Bachelor of Library Science at the University of the Philippines in 1992. I took my Masters in the same university. Unfortunately, I had to take a leave of absence for personal reasons.

I had more than 20 years of experience in library work and management in two non-profit, non-governmental organizations (i.e., an international women’s organization and an international church).  My first eleven years was with Isis International-Manila, an International Women’s Organization in Quezon City as the Resource Center Administrator and Officer-In-Charge to the Information Documentation and Resources Program (IDRP).  My work included leading and overseeing overall program development and management which includes developing services and information products from available resources in the Resource Centre, and ensuring the continuous growth and implementation of the training and internship on resource centre management and documentation work.

As the Head Librarian of Union Church of Manila (UCM) library in Makati, I am responsible to the day-to-day operations including development and management of library systems, creation and/or management of databases and websites, ensuring growth of resource collection, promotion of services, monitoring and expansion of membership and user base, editing and writing of library newsletter, organizing events, seminars and workshops; supervision of the processing/documentation work of the library interns and volunteers; and overseeing the continuous implementation of the volunteer and internship program of the library.

UCM is the only Christian church that has ever implemented a public lending library in the Philippines. The UCM Library serves the community on a weekly basis providing Christians more opportunities to be “salt and light to the world.” The library is a tool that brings both the international and local community through the doors of Union Church of Manila. It provides resources which will help the members of the congregation grow in knowledge of their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ and nurture their Christian faith.

The library is a safe place for everyone. We don’t discriminate any religion and race. The library is a loving and nurturing place for the elderly, the physically-challenged, and the emotionally and spiritually broken. The Library Ministry is a lifelong partner to individuals who are nurturing their faith and/or committed to discipleship and evangelism. Below are examples of our programs, services, and activities in UCM Library.

1.    The Library Volunteer & Internship Program offers not just library management training but also Bible studies and Christian fellowship. We witness to our volunteers and interns in hope that they will witness to others as well.

2.    We share the gospel through multi-media. One of our programs is Gideon’s Flame Media Ministry. One of our activities under this program is the Gideon’s Flame Christian Film Festival (GFCFF) which is designed to not only showcase Christian films that will eventually be housed in our library but most importantly impact the outside community with a concerted message of the Gospel. GFCFF is held annually for free at the Legazpi Active Park.  

3.    The “Summer Movies at the Library” offers both Christian and secular, “family friendly” films to our regular patrons. This helps us promote our film collection.

4.    The Library Newsletter, a bi-monthly publication for the library users that provides original and re-printed articles based on UCM’s sermon themes plus regular section of book/film reviews, poetry, Who’s Who in the Bible, and announcements of upcoming events. The contributors were volunteers and friends of the Library Ministry.

4.     Our regular Storytelling Workshop trains teachers, parents, grandparents, and our partners in the mobile library project to teach and encourage reading, and share the gospel through Bible storytelling to kids.

5.     Our 2x year Creative Writing workshop aims to train people to write for Evangelism. The next events are scheduled on April 2018 (National Literature Month) and September 2018 (International Literacy Month).

6.    We launched our first Little Free Library (LFL) last June 14, 2015 at the Bgy. San Lorenzo’s Sunday Market. The LFL is basically a colorful modest size bird-house containing books and other reading materials. The principle behind the Little Free Library is to "take a book, leave a book" -- a fun forum to share and swap literature and stories in the community. The LFL brought expats and Filipinos to our library who donated more books and applied for library membership.

7.   We launched our “Aklatang de Gulong Project” (mobile library) in partnership with a local church on April 29 at Dagat-dagatan, Cainta-Rizal.  We are hoping that this will be replicated in other communities of informal settlers so to address the need for a literacy program to kids in grade school level. Aside from the literacy program for the kids, we also provide training to the youth leaders, teachers, and church workers in the community to manage the mobile library and to conduct storytelling.

5. What are some low budget or free professional development venues that you participate in currently?

In-house training provided by UCM on: Transformational Leadership, Stewardship, GriefShare, etc. For the past years, I also attended seminars on “Archiving” and “Records Management” organized by the Association for Special Libraries of the Philippines (ASLP) and the University of the Philippines School of Library and Information Studies. I’m currently a member of the Philippine Theological Librarians Association (PTLA).

6. What is the single most challenging thing for you to accomplish as an international librarian? [i.e.purchasing print resources, funding professional development activities, providing resources to library users who may not have the internet at home, etc.?]

Acquiring materials from abroad is quite challenging. Shipping cost is very expensive. I had to look for alternatives such as members travelling to the US who could bring back the books and films that I ordered. Another challenge is funding of professional development activities outside of the country.

7. If CILA were to support your library in the future, what would your single greatest need be?

We would like CILA to help us fund our “Aklatang de Gulong Project” and the “Gideon’s Flame Media Ministry”. CILA can also provide us with books, educational toys, and Christian films.