Building virtual collection and Spanish colonial
imprints of the Philippines
Liladhar R. Pendse
University of California, Berkeley, California, USA
Purpose –The access to the rare originals of the early Spanish colonial imprints of the Philippines remains problematic. The reference librarians
often are restricted to directing the students and scholars to the secondary resources that are available both in print and as a part of the digital
assets within the North American academic libraries. This paper aims to focus on the select primary source editio ns including select Spanish
language colonial imprints that are available electronically on the Web along the Open Access. These Web-based resources serve as the reference
tools for the early history of the Philippines and Southeast Asia. As many of these publications are rare and extremely expensive for most libraries,
the Open Access resources serve as an aid to building a virtual collection of these items.
Design/methodology/approach –The author had to create a data set of the early imprints of the Spanish Philippines using several bibliographic
resources. The data set will be submitted as an Appendix for this research paper. The author did both qualitative and quantitative analysis of the
data set along with the voyant-based digital humanities approach for topic modeling.
Findings –The goals of this paper were to not only survey the early Spanish printing of the Philippines but also provide the reader with a somewhat
complete picture of how the printing began in the Spanish Philippines, what kind of the ﬁrst books were printed and how one can access them given
their rarity and fragility. The collection building paradigms are undergoing signiﬁcant shifts, and the focus of many academi c libraries is shifting
toward providing access to these items. As these items high-value low-use items continue to be part of the Special Collections, the access to these is
problematic. The virtual collections thus serve as a viable alternative that enables further research and access. While the creators of these works are
long gone, the legacy of the Spanish colonial domination, printing and the religious orders in the Philippines remain alive through these works.
Research limitations/implications –As this is an introductory paper, the author focused on the critical editions rather than providing a
comprehensive bibliographic landscape of the presses that produced these editions. He also did not take into consideration many pamphlets that
were published in the same period. He also did not consider the Chinese language publications of the Islands. The Chinese had been block printing
since medieval times (Little, 1996). In the context of the Spanish Philippines, the Chinese migration and trade have been studied in detail by Chia
(2006), Bjork (1998) and Gebhardt (2017). The scope of this paper also was centered toward building a virtual collection of these rare books.
Practical implications –Rare books are often expensive and out-of-reach for many libraries; the virtual collection of the same alon g the Open
Access model represents an alternative to collect and curate these collections. The stewardship of these collections also acquires a new meaning in
the digital milieu.
Social implications –This research paper will allow scholars to see past the analog editions and help them focus on curating a virtual collection.
The questions of electronic access are often ignored when it comes to visiting and using them in a controlled environment of the rea ding room in the
Special Collections. The author argues that one way to enable access to these rare and expensive books is to provide access to t heir digital
counterparts. These digital/virtual surrogates of the originals will facilitate further research.
Originality/value –The author could not ﬁnd similar research on the publications of the early Spanish colony of the Philippines.
Keywords Spanish printing in the Philippines, Open Access, Virtual collections, Web librarianship, Digital curation, Digital collection
Paper type Research paper
The discovery of the “New World”by Columbus and the
subsequent colonization of the American continent by Spain,
along with the formation and evolution of the printing ﬁrst in
Mexico in 1539, and then later in the other parts of Latin
American colonies, are welldocumented. Equally interesting is
the scenario about Spanish colonial printing in the Philippines
that has remained under-emphasized in the North American
Library and Information Studies literature. Furthermore,
access to the originalsremains problematic due to the rarity and
scarcity of these print materials in the North American
academic libraries. On the other hand, the Web-based open
access platforms represent an alternative way for a reference
librarian to provide researchers with the necessary tools to
interrogate the Spanish Colonial historiesof the linked worlds,
i.e. New Spain (Mexico) and the Philippines.
Libraries have struggled to collect these items for two
reasons. First, theseitems are exceedingly rare and expensive to
acquire. Second, many of thesebooks are fragile and cannot be
stored in the general collections.Thus, for collection building,
Emerald Insight at: https://www.emerald.com/insight/2514-9326.htm
Collection and Curation
39/3 (2020) 77–88
© Emerald Publishing Limited [ISSN 2514-9326]
Received 9 July 2019
Revised 30 October 2019
Accepted 14 November 2019