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The Commission on Audit (COA) has lauded the Department of Science and Technology's STARBOOKS or Science and Technology Academic and Research-Based Openly Operated Kiosk Station, the first digital science library in the Philippines which can run without Internet connection.

In its final report of 2014, the COA indicated that STARBOOKS is one innovation that merits praise because it provides opportunities to deprived but deserving students in the countryside and gives them access to information on S&T for free.

"Looking at this program, bringing this library to far-flung areas is very noble as far as COA is concerned," stated Kario Almonidovar, Commission on Audit supervising auditor assigned at the DOST. "The social impact of STARBOOKS is very important because this addresses one of the strategic objectives of the government which is poverty alleviation through education, and we approve it, that's why COA is called 'partner in development.'"

STARBOOKS is a technological innovation of the traditional library, transforming it to digital format where it contains knowledge products and research materials such as scientific journals, audio-video productions and film clips, tutorials and detailed information on Filipino scientists and inventors and their works. It covers varied topics such as food and nutrition, health and medicine, energy, environment, livelihood technologies, and others. In 2013, its content was further beefed up by the addition of the Britannica Ultimate Encyclopedia 2013 Edition.

It is a virtual "library in a box" - bridging the technological divide to benefit students with limited access to the internet.

"The STARBOOKS program was conceptualized primarily to provide easy access to S&T information by our students especially in the countryside where we have limited Internet access," said DOST Secretary Mario G. Montejo. "Since this module requires no Internet connection, DOST is able to level the playing field in terms of providing updated knowledge products that otherwise could have been available only to those with financial means."

Recently, the American Library Association (ALA), an international organization of library associations in the United States, took notice of STARBOOKS and conferred the program with the ALA Presidential Citation for Innovative International Library Projects last June 29, 2015 at the International Librarians Reception at the San Francisco Library in San Francisco, California.

"This is the essence of bringing education to far-flung areas. The program is worth pursuing because of its accomplishment as the program has already been distributed nationwide and has gained significant milestones," added the COA official.

As of this writing, DOST's Science and Technology Information Institute, the lead implementing agency for STARBOOKS, has already installed 654 units/kiosks in 69 provinces all over the country (Per COA Annual Audit Report as of December 2014, there were 12 STARBOOKS kiosks established in CAR, Masbate, Negros Oriental and MIMAROPA and 351 for schools, LGUs, provincial S&T centers and public libraries)

(Written by S&T Media Service, published at DOST website,  dated 04 August 2015)



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