Philippines: Dole Asia Library Hub

The Dole Asia Library Hub was established in Mindanao, making it the first hub launched in the island and the second one launched in the country.

The Dole Asia Library Hub Project

On June 7, 2005, Dole Asia formalized a Memorandum of Agreement with the Department of Education (DepEd) of the Republic of the Philippines in support of the Library Hub Project.

The original Library Hub Project was conceptualized in 2004 by the office of DepEd Undersecretary Juan Miguel Luz in response to the inadequate supply of storybooks and supplementary reading material in the Philippine public school system. As part of its mission to promote the love of reading in children, DepEd aims to put up 300 library hubs throughout the country. This goal also provides supplemental support for “Every Child a Reader by Grade 3” – the nationwide curricular program launched to “raise reading and comprehensive levels of Filipino students as a requisite for lifelong learning and achievement.”

Through Library Hubs, DepEd hopes to establish reading corners, while also offering faculty training on how to develop reading programs in their respective schools. In the long-term, the department is dedicated to building relationships with donors, non-governmental organizations and local governments as a way to grow private and public funds for additional school libraries.

This project is part of the Adopt-a-School Program (AASP), which was established in 1998 by Republic Act 8525, more commonly recognized as the Adopt-a-School Act. By allowing private organizations to assist public schools, the AASP act ensures that all students have access to quality education. AASP addresses problems in infrastructure, growing drop-out rates, diminishing standards for education and skill-building programs, nutritional issues and poverty.

How the Program Works

The Library Hubs are housed in existing buildings with an area of at least 250 to 300 square meters. To facilitate building selection, a DepEd regional office or division with an Engineering team often identifies idle structures in the area that meet Library Hub requirements. One of the most logical features being that the building is easily accessible and strategically located near public schools.

Once the DepEd and respective Library Hub sponsor approve and sign the Memorandum of Agreement, the refurbishing and conversion process begins.

A Library Hub is run by a librarian, library clerk, and utility staff and functions as a book warehouse for public schools in a given district. Each Hub lends books to its designated schools, which in turn lend the books to their students. The schools can “check out” books and store them in their own libraries or reading corners for up to 30 days at a time.

Smaller districts serving approximately 30 schools may need a Hub that can store 10,000 to 25,000 books. Larger districts, those accommodating up to 100 schools in the area, require storage space for as many as 50,000 to 200,000 books

Dole’s Commitment

In addition to donating P2 million to refurbish the new Library Hub, Dole also organized and funded the transportation of all books from the DepEd’s main office in Manila to its satellite office in Davao. As a way to further express its support, the Company committed itself to paying 100 percent of the program’s 2006 operational expenses, including salaries of the Library Hub personnel.

On June 1, 2006, just in time for a new school year, the eye-catching yellow Dole Asia Library Hub was open for business. Strategically located at the heart of Davao City near several public schools, it currently serves the entire City School District – 307,800 students in 285 schools. Since 2007, this Hub has been entirely run and funded by DepEd Davao.

The Davao Hub houses 76,548 books with 281 titles as of August 2008 and has all the basic features typical of a Hub, such as a computer room, book repair and bindery section, check-out counters, conference room, print shop and reference filing system. In addition to these features, the Davao House offers visitors a relaxing reading corner and a unique section of American History books, which were added per special request of Dole Chairman, David H. Murdock.

To date, DepEd has opened over 100 Library Hubs and hopes to see this number grow in years to come.

Sources: www.adopt-a-school.ph, www.deped.gov.ph, www.inquirer.net, www.mb.com.ph,www.davaocity.gov.ph, Marge Barro (DepEd consultant)