By: Karen Anne P. Vargas, UPLB-College of Development Communication

A STARBOOKS computer unit, the first digital library in the Philippines that you can accessed even without the use of internet connectivity.

 

STARBOOKS to SuperSTARBOOKS, a project developed by the Science and Technology Information Institute of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST- STII), stepping up into another level with its latest upgraded version.

 

Janice Irene F. Berris, Head of DOST-CALABARZON’s Planning Unit said that the proposal of upgrading the contents of STARBOOKS was pursued in 2016. Earlier this September 2019, the digital library was upgraded and renamed into SuperSTARBOOKS containing more digitized science and technology resources compared to the previous STARBOOKS.

 

SuperSTARBOOKS or Super Science and Technology Academic and Research-Based Openly Operated Kiosk Station also known as ‘Library in a Box,’ is the first digital library in the Philippines. It started in 2013 with the aim of bringing science and technology information to far-flung communities.

 

The program of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), “Community Empowerment through Science and Technology” concerning STARBOOKS lends assistance to far-flung communities and municipalities where they provide all the needed equipment for computer unit to these people.

 

Berris emphasized that STARBOOKS contains essential materials and information that are not limited to students, but also includes livelihood information for entrepreneurs that can help people who live in far-flung communities.

 

“What we can say and be proud of is that the contents of the STARBOOKS are sure and well-studied because unlike the other available search engines di ba merong mga (they contain) fake news or misinformation” Berris explained.

 

For two consecutive years, SuperSTARBOOKS has been funded by the government for being part of the priority program for education under the National Priority Plan, crafted by the National Economic and Development Authority.

 

Based on the 2019 statistics from the Department of Education, there are almost 62,000 elementary and high schools in the Philippines—47,205 of which are public. However, despite being named as a priority program for education, only 4,095 schools and local government units as of September 2019 have SuperSTARBOOKS.

 

Berris defended that the limitation of government resources such as insufficient funds hinders the accessibility of SuperSTARBOOKS. DOST only provides the software, they give the computer units if the particular area doesn’t have the means to cover for it like people from far-flung communities.

 

Right now, DOST-CALABARZON wishes to partner with the Department of Education to provide and cover for the hardware requirements to different schools, afterwards the system will be immediately installed. Moreover, the partnership will help SuperSTARBOOKS be recognized through its usefulness, Berris stated.

 

Due to the limited number of hardware units of SuperSTARBOOKS, DOST-STII came up with the application for mobile phones. According to Berris, SuperSTARBOOKS is not a typical application where you can download the content, it can only be used through a local network set-up. SuperSTARBOOKS also has a website but only limited information is uploaded because the website cannot withhold the large number of references it contains. Also, some references have a license subscription that can only be accessed through the computer unit of SuperSTARBOOKS.