PLAI WVRLC Regional Conference 2018: Librarians Engage!

Last September 6-8, 2018 was the Philippine Librarians Association - Western Visayas Regional Librarians Council (PLAI-WVRLC) annual Regional Conference and General Assembly in JBLFMU-Molo. This year's theme is Librarians Engage! Moving Forward to Student-Centered Initiatives. This CPD activity was awarded 20 CPD points. Around 120 participants all over the region attended the event. I can say that this 3-day seminar is unique and different from previous librarians' conferences that I've attended. We talked about library innovation and practices, but also hands-on activities on creativity and story-telling.

This conference had two main speakers, Mr. Darrel Marco, and Dr. Danilo Baylen. Mr. Marco is currently working for a law firm and has extensive experience in school libraries and story-telling. He spoke on the topics of "Librarians as Storytellers" and "Library Activities towards a more Interactive Space". Dr. Danilo Baylen is a Professor in the College of Education at the University of West Georgia, United States. His topics were "Concept Mapping for Academic Success", "LEGOs for Creative Thinking and Collaboration", and "Information Literacy for All."

For Day 1, Mr. Marco talked about Storytelling and we had varied activities such as illustrating stories, translating stories into different languages, and a writing workshop where we tried to write our own stories. This is great for school librarians who have story-telling activities in their libraries and schools. Storytelling is a great way to market the library and also encourage reading to students. Even if you are not working for a school library, you can still learn something and apply story-telling. I think the important thing here is to constantly be creative and think of many ways we can encourage users to the library, and story-telling can be one of them.

Mr. Darrel Marco lecturing on Storytelling
Librarians in the audience
What I liked about his lecture is it's never boring. The speaker is really a good story-teller, and even if the stories he sampled are for kids, we adults were also riveted!

For Days 2 and 3, Dr. Danilo Baylen introduced "Concept Mapping", making diagrams which show relationships between concepts. This is a useful study tool for students, but it can also be used for a variety of purposes like library planning or brainstorming. We learned how to make our own concept maps. The next lectures were the most interesting part of the seminar - we got to play with LEGO. Dr. Baylen uses LEGO for his own classes, and it can also be a tool for teaching creativity and collaboration.

We had hands-on activities on the LEGO pieces. We were divided into groups and given sets of LEGO pieces to work with. We started with an easy activity, and the next activities became more and more challenging. Our first task was to form a duck with the pieces we were given. Even with the same kind of LEGO pieces, the result was a great variety of ducks! It was an example of how people create and express in unique and different ways.

5 baby ducklings and their mom
After the making the duck, we had a more complicated task. Given a set of pieces, we must build the tallest structure and use our brains and strategize how to do that. You can't just stack all the pieces end to end - we had to think of how to build a solid structure with a good foundation. Then the next seemed to be more difficult levels. We had to figure out how to build the 'longest bridge' with the pieces but it must be three inches tall. Then we had to make the strongest bridge and it must be tested with weights to see if it's strong enough! Everyone was really game and we felt like kids again.

The LEGO activity was simply not playing around, because I realized that its also a great tool for teaching creativity, strategy, and collaboration. It was fun to work with other people and think of creative ways to solve a problem and do what is asked. As librarians, we can also take this as an inspiration and have library activities that engage users as well as educate them in creative ways. Using actual LEGOs is not required.

My favorite part of the LEGO challenges was building a character using the pieces. I got to build Starlord or Peter Quill from the Guardians of the Galaxy. It was so fun for me since the LEGOs we built were of different superheroes (both Marvel and DC) and Star Wars characters. I really liked the activity since I love Marvel and Star Wars.

LEGO figures we built. I can see The Flash, Gamora, and Rey.
Our activity for Day 3 was for "Information Literacy for All." We were once again divided into groups and had a box of small plastic toys of different animals. Out of these animals, we made 5 questions users may ask about them. Out of the questions, we based further questions. We had to figure out what resource to use as librarians in answering these questions.

My group was super serious
I liked this activity because it practices librarians' information searching skills. As librarians, we should be the experts in knowing where to find information. If we are not skilled at this, then how can we help our users? I also think that its a good activity for teaching Reference and Information Services.

The last part of the conference was the President and Treasurer's report, followed by an election of new officers for the 2019-2020 term. I was an officer for 2016-2018 as representative of Iloilo province and Acting Secretary. I'm not joining the officers for this time but it was also a good experience to work with other librarians to plan and organize events like this. It's good to see that the librarians of PLAI-WVRLC are all working together and accomplishing great things.

Lastly, we want to thank JBLFMU-Molo, Inc. for the venue and volunteers, CPU Library Staff, and WVSU Library Staff for making this event possible.

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