by Lindy Gamolo
This month, we’re back with our favorite segment: the bookmark collector. Last year, we featured collectors from Europe and Australia (Willy, Liudmila and Robin). This month, we’ll go to Latin America!
Cherie Flores was scouting for bookmark exchanges when she emailed me. While talking about the exchange, I asked her to share her collection with us. She generously agreed to it and here we are now, about to see her wonderful collection and know a little more about libraries in Chile.
Hello, Cherie! Thank you for agreeing to share your collection with us. We often start with a quick introduction, so please introduce yourself to our readers who are excited to check out your collection.
I am Cherie Flores. I’m a Chilean bookmarks collector. I live in Santiago with my family: husband, two children, two cats and a dog. I am a librarian and I worked in the University of Santiago-Chile 11 years ago.
Wow, you are a librarian! Bookbed has plenty of friends who are also librarians here in the Philippines. Which library did you work at?
I worked in the Library of the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Santiago–Chile 11 years ago. I was also a coordinator for the information literacy program called Information Skills Development (DHI-USACH) or Desarrollo de Habilidades de Información.
We can imagine all the interesting books you had in the Faculty of Humanities! But are there many public libraries in Chile?
There are more than 400 public libraries in Chile. But they are very different from each other. Some libraries have many resources while others only have a few books available to the public.
Then, are most Chileans fond of visiting libraries?
Unfortunately not. In Chile, there is no culture of using libraries. People prefer shopping centers. And in the case of public libraries, I think they have useless service hours. Most public libraries are open Mondays thru Fridays, when people are at school or at work. I think that it’s necessary to change the mindset from the management of libraries and understand that to attract more people to visit libraries, they need to open on weekends, and create fun activities for the community.
In Santiago, an iconic example is the Biblioteca de Santiago, which opens from Tuesdays thru Sundays, and has a variety of activities in addition to lending books.
I think we should replicate this successful model, obviously depending on the needs of the community.
We couldn’t agree more, Cherie! We have a similar situation in the Philippines. Bookbed should include that in its advocacy—calling libraries to open on weekends (if they aren’t already). As mentioned earlier, we have librarians friends, but we haven’t really asked them what they like most about their work. Can you tell us what you love about being a librarian?
In my case, since I’ve specialized in information literacy in recent years, I love giving people the tools to find and use information. I really love to see how students, teachers and researchers become autonomous in the use of information resources.
Has your being a librarian influenced you in collecting bookmarks?
I think that being an avid reader has influenced me more than being a librarian does. In fact, being an avid reader influenced me to some extent to become a librarian.
Reading indeed changes lives. Does your library make bookmarks?
My library doesn’t make bookmarks. I failed to get a budget for them, sadly. But the Information Literary Program and the Central Library make them sometimes.
So how did you come to start collecting bookmarks?
At first, every time I bought a new book, I always bought a new bookmark to go along it. Later on, I realized I never really used them for that purpose because I didn’t want to spoil them. Then I noticed I already had a collection of bookmarks. That’s when I started to “seriously” gather bookmarks for a collection. I started my blog about bookmarks two years ago. You can check it out here. But I have been collecting bookmarks for at least twelve years now.
Can we assume that your favorite bookmarks are about libraries or are printed by libraries?
Yes. They are one of my favorites. I also collect bookmarks of all themes and materials, but I especially love to collect bookmarks about libraries and cities/countries, and also bookmarks about my favorite books or writers.
We want to somehow make this a calling to all libraries here in the Philippines to produce good bookmarks as a way to promote reading and visiting their local libraries. Please show us your library-themed bookmark collection.
Here are a few of my favorites from my collection of library-themed bookmarks!
We’ve seen several ways of storing bookmarks, but how do you keep and arrange yours?
I keep my bookmarks in boxes. I’d love to keep them in folders, like other collectors, but have not yet had time to find a way to sort them out. I love the way Willy Nieuwveld arranges her collection, as featured in your previous interview.
I have most of my bookmarks organized by theme. Although bookmarks I received by exchange are organized by country.
We always ask this because we want to prove something. Haha! What’s the usual reaction you get from people when they learn that you collect bookmarks?
Some people are surprised. They consider it a strange collection! Some close friends are very supportive and bring me bookmarks as souvenirs from their travels.
What are some of the difficulties you experienced in collecting bookmarks?
One of the difficulties I have had is that in Chile, bookstores don’t give away bookmarks. When you buy a book, you should ask them if they can give you bookmarks (and usually they give only one).
Another difficulty is the geographical location of Chile. As it is so far south in the world, exchanges with other countries is difficult. Some collectors have refused to exchange with me because it is expensive to send the bookmarks to Chile.
Do you have other hobbies aside from collecting bookmarks? What are these?
I think collecting bookmarks would not have become my hobby if I did not enjoy reading. These hobbies are inseparable for me.
Reading is our favorite hobby, too. What/who are your favorite reads?
Ugh, I like many writers. Currently my favorite is Stefan Zweig. I discovered his works last year in a used-books fair, and since then I read his works incessantly. It has wonderful prose.
I also like Irene Némirovsky, Milan Kundera, E. Poe, Lovecraft and Ray Bradbury.
Julio Cortázar is my favorite Latin American writer.
There are other writers I’m reading recently that have had a good impression on me: Camilla Lackberg, Arturo Pérez Reverte and Sándor Márai.
I must also add that I like to read books about books, among which are: The Shadow of the Wind by Ruiz Zafón, The Librarian of Auschwitz by Antonio Iturbe, Firmin by Sam Savage and The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.
Any concluding words from a bookmark collector?
Collect bookmarks to learn about other countries and other cultures. Also, I think we must take advantage of bookmark exchanges with other collectors to make friends and, together, position bookmark collecting as an important cultural activity, so we could organize events and exhibitions of bookmarks worldwide.
Many thanks, Cherie! We have to say, that Biblioteca de Santiago looks enormous. Looking forward to our bookmarks exchange! ☁