Digital science library eyes PH history, arts, culture in collection

Pieces of Philippine history, arts, culture will soon be integrated into STARBOOKS, or the Science and Technology Academic Research-based Openly Operated Kiosks, a digital science library developed by the Department of Science and Technology-Science and Technology Information Institute (DOST-STII).

During the July 29 launching of SuperSTARBOOKS, the digital science library’s latest version, DOST-STII bared its plans to include the Filipiniana digital collection “Virtual Sentro Rizal” into the library’s continuously expanding content.

Also called “Multi-lingual Virtual Sentro Rizal”, the Virtual Sentro Rizal is a portable digital collection of reference materials of mostly Philippine history, arts, culture – all in 250 gigabytes of files and with annotations. Found here are videos on National Hero Jose Rizal and Andres Bonifacio, resources on Filipino values, arnis, traditional dances, UNESCO World Heritage Sites, churches, geography, environment, climate change, and others.

“It is high time for us to integrate the teaching of S&T with the appreciation for everything Filipino because it is also our way of addressing the problem of a perceived lack of nationalism among Filipino scientists who would jump at the chance to seek greener pastures, by inculcating a sense of nationalism among them – that they should serve first the country and its people,” said Alan Taule, chief of STII’s information resources and analysis division.

“Our objective is for the scientists to be more knowledgeable about culture and the arts and for our artists to appreciate the hard work being done by our Filipino scientists and researchers,” said Taule. “It’s going to be a win-win solution.”

Virtual Sentro Rizal is stored in an external hard drive and comes with a Users’ Manual in seven versions using different dialects, according to Mary Grace A. Tirona, former undersecretary of the Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO). Tirona presented the concept to the audience at the launching composed mainly of school library personnel.

CFO put the Virtual Sentro Rizal collection together with funding from the National Commission for Culture and the Arts. With 42 Philippine schools overseas, it was originally created for the cultural education of Filipino children abroad, including those whose parents are OFWs.

Meanwhile, STARBOOKS has a user-friendly interface and does not require Internet connection. It contains tons of resources in text, audio, and video formats from local and international sources. Among these are books, magazines, journals, scientific and research papers, disaster preparedness materials, interactive courseware, and K-12 supplement materials.

More materials have been added into the collection in 2016, thus upgrading the content of STARBOOKS and renaming it into SuperSTARBOOKS. The updated version now includes full-length livelihood videos from the former Technology Resource Center, a useful resource to those in search for livelihood ideas. SuperSTARBOOKS now also contains scientists’ profiles, DOST publications, Science: Cool Facts, significant dates in Philippine science history, and new science articles.

The SuperSTARBOOKS launching was held at the STII Mini Theater as one of the activities during the DOST’s recent National Science and Technology Week held July 25-29, 2016.