Ilocano language, culture, literature

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Philippine eLib

I recently learned about the Philippine eLib, a collaborative cyber library project of the National Library of the Philippines (NLP), University of the Philippines (UP), Department of Science and Technology (DOST), Department of Agriculture (DA), and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED).

It is funded through the e-Government Fund of the Philippine Government. It hopes to provide for the information needs of all sectors of society in a convenient (accessible 24/7), affordable, and efficient way of delivery.

Available resources include:

· Union catalog of the 5 partners;

· Digitized Filipiniana materials including theses and dissertations;

· Special collection/researches of the 5 partners;

· Online resources/subscription to electronic databases.

The website has announced that pre-paid membership cards are now available in denominations of P100, P300, P500, and P1,000 at the General Reference Section, University Library, University of the Philippines Diliman. For inquiries, Dial: (632)926-1880/(632)981-8500 Local 2861.

The cards will also be available in other Partner Institutions soon. Please keep posted.

There are 5 types of membership to the Philippine eLib, namely:

· Partners - Content Builders of the Portal's union database and are given unlimited access to all local contents;

· Corporate Subscribers - Institutions subscribed to the Philippine e-Lib via IP authentication for a limited period of time;

· Individual Subscribers - Individuals who have paid subscription fees for a limited period of time;

· Prepaid Card Users - Users who log-in to the Portal using Prepaid card accounts (Prepaid cards will be made available later, please keep posted);

· Guest Users - Unpaid subscribers who can search the database and download fulltext contents upon payment to the Philippine e-Lib.

There’s a comprehensive FAQ that should be helpful for anyone attempting to use eLib.

As of now, however, anyone who wants to surf the website may find it too slow to respond to most anything one requests it to do. Filipinayzd (which is off-line as of this writing) emailed me on Aug. 23, 2006, that the eLib website was offline.

Inspite of the hardware/software kinks that need to be ironed out, eLib is a treasure trove of information at one’s fingertips. Imagine a collection of more than 800,000 bibliographic records consisting of more than 25 million pages of local and international materials, 29,000 full text journals, a Filipiniana Section, and 15,000 theses and dissertations accessible 24/7! To give you an idea of the breadth of the project, I browsed the listnames starting with "Iloc" and "Ilok" and came up with more than 100 entries. Pretty good starting point for someone doing research on Ilocandia--its people, the language, literature, culture, etc.

The fly in the ointment is the fee the prospective user has to pre-pay to get "deeper" into the eLib. Browsing the topic entries and a few applications are free, but downloading the actual article/write-up and other "meatier" applications are not. We could understand the fee for accessing the foreign subscriptions/databases. But it would be nice to be able to access the local content free of charge.

As in some new enterprises in need of developing a consumer base of access-fee paying customers, it will do well for the Philippine eLib to offer FREE trial subscriptions/memberships (maybe for a week, a month, etc.) to give prospective users the opportunity to satisfy their curiosity for the cyber library’s products and services.

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