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First time as a webinar speaker

Our set up in the American Corner section of our library

Yesterday, August 20, my colleague and I were invited to speak for the webinar of the Philippine Librarians Association, Inc. - Western Visayas Regional Council (PLAI WVRLC). We talked about the online reference services of the Henry Luce III Library of Central Philippine University where I currently work. I was with Vince Palcullo, our Archives and Special Collections Librarian. We are part of the library's Virtual Reference Services (VRS) team which was formed in response to the new challenges brought about by the pandemic. 

I'm glad that PLAI WVRLC recognized the work we were putting into the virtual reference services that our library established due to the new normal. The lockdown in our city started last March and it was only in May that we were allowed to go back to work. Due to the pandemic and the shift to online learning, we had to face a new challenge: how do we deliver library services to our school community in an all-online environment? 

Poster for the event

The library quickly formed a plan for our new services. We had to prove to our administration that we can still deliver services for our university community. Our library director Cynthia PeleƱa along with the guidance of our consultant Dr. Reysa Alenzuela, we had the idea for online services and a team for the Virtual Reference Services as we called it was born. 

We are still in the process of refining our methods and creating policies. The core components of our new services are the following:

  • Chat Bertha. This was originally an idea by our library director to have a 'virtual library assistant' that users can ask if they have information needs. Chat Bertha is integrated with our Facebook page. Though, the librarians are still answering the questions users send us. 
  • Library Website and Facebook page. We are using these online platforms to promote the library and feature online resources our users can access even without stepping inside the physical library.
  • Scanning services and document delivery. We offer scanning services, though we are trying to respect copyright and adapt fair use as much as possible. Faculty can also request books for pick up.

Webinar Experience

I have worked behind the scenes for PLAI WVRLC before. I was the Secretary for a couple of years and I worked as a support/volunteer for various events and seminars. However, I have not experienced being a speaker for any event! This is my first time to speak at a local conference.

I actually like that webinars are becoming popular among professionals. You only need a good internet connection and you can reach more people since the event is online. With the new tools, recording and sharing are easier. 

For this webinar, we were allowed to pre-record our presentation. It was only the question and answer portion that we were live (we only wore the same outfits as the recording session). This was advantageous to me as I have horrible stage fright. We had the time to refine our presentation and mistakes could be cut in the editing. We still could use some improvement! It's also good to see our mistakes and what we can do better next time.

I admit that even if the presentation was pre-recorded, I still felt nervous before we started. It felt like I would speak before a real stage with real people! Speaking is one of my weaknesses and it's something I would like to improve on. I tend to speak really fast when I'm nervous. 

However, I did enjoy answering the live Q&A even if some questions could be clarified in the presentation itself. I'm really grateful to Vince for being a wonderful presentation partner. I think we did an excellent job answering those questions and our answers complemented well. 

I am also grateful to the Regalo - Touching Lives group and Mr. Carlos Eclevia for helping us out in this webinar. They are doing a good job of helping our library associations create webinars that many will find useful especially during the new normal. If your library or group would like to organize a webinar, they can help you. 

This event would not have been possible without the tireless support of our library director and librarians. We also have to thank Dr. Reysa Alenzuela for her guidance and support. Resty, our IT guy in the library, was the one making sure our equipment and presentation were ready. 

I would love to speak again for a webinar as long as I'm given enough time to prepare! For librarians who would like to share about your library, its good to take the opportunity to speak if it's there.

To know more about the Henry Luce III Library and what we are doing, here are the links:

Facebook page: facebook.com/cpulibrary
Library website: library.cpu.edu.ph

To those who missed the webinar, here is the recording. We were the first presenters and I was the first speaker. After our presentation was the question and answer live portion.

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