AMERICAN CORNERS AND ITS BENEFIT TO THE FILIPINO PUBLIC: PROMOTING GAMES INSIDE THE LIBRARY

2ND NATIONAL CONGRESS OF SPECIAL LIBRARIES OF THE PHILIPPINES THEME: ACHIEVING A BALANCED SCORECARD: BEST PRACTICES IN PHILIPPINE SPECIAL LIBRARIES August 2 - 3, 2012 Economic and Financial Learning Center (EFLC) Audio-Visual Room Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas

Reysa C. Alenzuela Director, Thomas Jefferson Information Center Embassy of the United States in the Philippines

INTRODUCTION To keep the role of libraries visible in communities, libraries must do more than employ the latest technology and provide a wide range of resources and services. It must design creative ways to interact and engage with audiences. We as librarians and information specialists know that collaboration, networking and linkages are ways to maximize resources and expand our reach. The best example of partnership and innovative engagement I can give is by sharing about the American Corners network. American Corners Philippines American Corners are jointly sponsored partnerships between the Public Affairs Sections of United States Embassies or Consulates and host country institutions. They provide access to current and reliable information about the United States via book collections, the Internet, and local programming to the general public. The mission of each American Corner is to be a partner in promoting mutual understanding with the United States of America. But looking beyond this broad objective, I define the American Corners networks as to its benefit to the public, as follows: As a community hub To provide accurate information about United States history, government, society, and values; To maintain an open dialogue through programs that build bridges of understanding; To enhance English language skills through audiovisual and online resources; To promote United States assistance and exchange programs.

A Venue to amplify engagement An American Corner consists of a collection of books in English from and about the United States. The book collection may include reference titles, books about English teaching and learning, works of fiction and U.S. State Department publications about topics such as studying in the United States. American Corners also provide access to U.S. information through the Internet, audio and video products, and other multimedia collection Aside from serving as information outpost similar to a U.S. public library reference service. Where possible, meeting rooms are made available for program events and activities like author readings, lectures, films, workshops, and exhibits. The fundamental function of an American Corner is to promote dynamic engagement.

Dynamic engagement is the impetus why we ventured to adopt new ways to attract library users. Thus, we adopted gaming. Games and Gaming Games, as defined in their broadest sense, include traditional and modern board, card, video, mobile, computer, live-action, role-playing, and miniature games. In June 2011, the number of users of AC Manila unbelievably soar a 900% increase from 100 users to 1,000 library users. AC Baguio reached almost 700,000 audiences. All these significant increase are partly attributed to adoption of gaming in the library Benefits of Gaming Games fit library mission. Special libraries have a mission to provide resources and support their industry or profession. Games provide stories and information, presented in a new format. Gaming programs are primarily social events. It's more about relationship building than gameplay. Regular users may see the library in a new light. All users may be prompted to use other non-gaming library services. Ideally, all users have a positive library experience. Gaming programs epitomize library as 3rd place, creating a community place between home and work/school to socialize and play. Some videogame events are also being used to encourage print literacy. In Carver's Bay (SC), youth who check out books and write book reviews earn extra gaming time. Gaming and Literacy Visual literacy is the ability to interpret, assess, process and make meaning from visual images such as photographs, charts, graphs, and video. Board games like Tabboo and Scattergories enhances visual literacy. Media literacy is the ability to critically assess messages presented by media outlets such as newspapers, blogs, television shows, movies. As early as 2010, Department of Education introduced media literacy education in the elementary and high school curriculum. Media literacy provides tools to help critically analyze messages, offer opportunities for learners to broaden their experience of media, and helps them develop creative skills in making their own media messages. Programming literacy is the ability to understand and apply programming principles to create change in technology. One example I can think of is Scratch, a programming tool that allows young people to create computer games, animations, and other forms of interactive

media. Developed by Resnick’s research group at the MIT Media Lab, Scratch project involves thinking up an idea, breaking the idea up into its parts, and constructing each Part using the scripting blocks. Throughout the process, kids engage in a trial-and-error process that encourages creative approaches to all kinds of design challenges. In so doing, they learn to manipulate multiple forms of media, mathematically coordinate interactions and timing between objects, and absorb systems concepts. Multimodal literacy is the ability to understand and interpret the same information presented in multiple formats. Online games as simple as topography, cooking, dancing or farming games require the use of audio, visual, spatial skills. As learners get used to understanding messages in different format, they become more adept in learning with flexibility. Science literacy is the ability to understand and be fluent in the nature of science and scientific methods. A lot of Science resources online are in the form of games to appeal particularly to young learners. Technology literacy is the ability to use the tools of creation and communication, such as computers, cell phones, MP3 players and more. Based on my experience, Kindles can have spelling and simple language skills enhancement games. Educational games in iPads, tablets, e-reader, mobile phones can develop skills across ages. Planning for Integrating Gaming in Libraries Create gaming strategy guides . Acquire board games for the library. Include a session on online gaming for library staff training. Librarians can learn to think like gamers! Do some beta-testing. Be fearless in risktaking, for we learn from our mistakes, and can always hit the "reset" button. Plan to host gaming program. Treating questions like, "When does Spore come out?" or, "How do I beat Final Fantasy XII?" like serious reference questions. Simple questions can open more doors to get them attracted to traditional resources. Your next premise could be a sincere offer “if you liked this GAME, you may like these books/DVDs/audiobooks/e-resources” Collaboration is the best way. Bring game designers, developers, artists, game-music composers, and other creative thinkers from the professional game industry to talk about what they do and how they do it. Offer workshops in game design. Conclusion As the dominance of print gives way to an expanding variety of digital formats and information media, the reputation of the 21st century academic library will be determined by the extent of its influence and not by the size of its physical holdings. Libraries should host gaming

programs. More than just breaking the stereotyping of libraries as a boring place, it enhances relationship with library users by making them feel that we are not just there to deliver services. Librarians and professionals should be seen as cheerful service providers who enjoy making their clienteles happy. Embrace change and never worry about our existence!

References:
1. ALA Connect. Games and Gaming.

http://gaming.ala.org/resources/index.php?title=Advocacy 2. Baker, Frank. Visual Literacy. 2008. http://www.frankwbaker.com/vl_defined.htm. January 27, 2009. 3. Buck , Anne M. and Douglas, Kimberly. Peer to Peer Librarianship: Mirroring the Network, [2009]. 4. Center for Media Literacy. http://www.medialit.org/. Center for Media Literacy, 2008. January 27, 2009.
5. Edutopia. Programming: The New Literacy. The George Lucas Foundation,

2008. http://www.edutopia.org/programming-the-new-literacy. January 27, 2009. 6. The European Charter for Media Literacy. July 10, 2012. http://www.euromedialiteracy.eu/ 7. ICT Digital Literacy Portal. Lempster Group, 2008. http://www.ictliteracy.info/. January 27, 2009. 8. International Visual Literacy Association. http://www.ivla.org/. January 27, 2009. 9. ISTE. National Education Technology Literacy Standards. ISTE, 2009. http://www.iste.org/AM/Template.cfm?Section=NETS. January 27, 2009. 10. ITEA. Technology Literacy Standards. ITEA, 2005. http://www.iteaconnect.org/TAA/Publications/TAA_Publications.html. January 27, 2009. 11. Media Literacy.com. http://www1.medialiteracy.com/library.jsp. January 27, 2009.
12. PBS Teachers: Media Literacy. PBS,

2009. http://www.pbs.org/teachers/media_lit/index.html. January 27, 2009. 13. Myers, Brian. Minds at Play. May 2008. Retrieved July 16, 2012. http://web.media.mit.edu/~mres/scratch/American-Libraries.pdf?_r=1&oref=slogin 14. National Council of Teachers of English. http://www.ncte.org/positions/statements/multimodalliteracies. January 27, 2009. 15. National Science Digital Library. NSDL Science Literacy Maps. The National Science Digital Library, 2009. http://strandmaps.nsdl.org/. January 27, 2009. 16. Ronda, Rainier Allan. “DepEd to include media literacy education in school curriculum.” The Philippine Star. May 17, 2010. Retrieved July 10, 2012. http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?articleId=575979&publicationSubCategoryId=6 3

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