Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Dear Librarian: Reply on Baking at the National Library

This month's Dear Librarian guest blogger is Ms. Anne Rosette G. Crelencia of the National Library of the Philippines (NLP). Ms. Crelencia is the section head of the NLP's Rarebooks and Manuscript Collection. Since NLP is an institutional member of the PBBY, Ms. Crelencia is the institution's representative to the PBBY board. She lends her opinion for this month's Dear Librarian post.

Anne Rosette G. Crelencia

Whenever I get orders from my superiors to write something, be it answers to research queries and requests, project proposals, business letters, and articles for the newsletters, most frequently those are accomplished in no time. But this time it’s different. Weeks passed by quickly without writing an answer to the challenge posted for our organization.

I am tasked to write an answer to a very big challenge posted not only for the managers of the National Library of the Philippines but also to the latest leaders in the government who are to run the country in the following six years. I have managed to resolve complaints and requests about our library’s services and collections from clients through e-mail and phone calls, but to manage a challenge as big as acquiring or renovating or transferring the current National Library of the Philippines building to a one is something else.

The thing is, I had a hard time identifying if it is really the building that calls for change just so we can say that our library is no decade behind the Library of Alexandria or is it just the way the structure is being handled. I mean, even a nipa hut has lots of possibilities to be something else other than being the plain and simple shelter for s small family. I believe change is never confined to physical developments but it’s about setting priorities.

With the very little budget allotted for our national library and the public libraries attached to it, it is tough to prioritize the architecture of libraries than the acquisition of good quality materials for library patrons’ use. However, this does not mean that initiative towards development of architectural structure of libraries in the country should be hindered by the lack of budget. A good proposal coupled with diligent plan of action to implement development might do the talking. That always depend on the priorities set by leaders in government, I guess.

I have seen beautiful and sophisticated libraries in other countries such as Singapore and Germany. We are no doubt too much behind them, but then again, that does not mean these countries are not experiencing difficulties in terms of working conditions and library collections and services just because they have the most sophisticated or modern buildings and resources. They do have their own dilemma just like us.

What exactly am I saying? I would like to believe proposals for a new library building has been initiated several times by the present and past library managers, only that nothing yet happened. But despite government’s inattentiveness to the requests, the National Library of the Philippines continued to persevere in performing its role in the society. It is challenging to meet the changing needs of library users in this age of technological advancement with very ample budget, but the staff who dedicated their craft and even lives in the name of service to the public is more valuable than any amount of money for the improvement of the library is available.

Perhaps a little more effort to open the eyes of our leaders in government on the value of books and libraries in the country is needed to be established first before anything else. I am dreaming of a national library flooded by people not because of the great architecture but because it is filled with resources where vast amount of knowledge and information can be acquired any time.

Tomorrow, June 30, 2010, we will officially have the new President of the Republic of the Philippines. Just as the whole nation anticipates for a great change in the current status of the society, I am as well crossing my fingers that somehow the President will make a difference in the field of libraries and education in the country.

For now, as I cannot just wait for the president to act on our needs as a government, education, culture and research institute, I will continue to do the best I can to serve the public with utmost diligence and integrity even if the fading architecture and facilities of the building remained unnoticed. National Library of the Philippines will be the priority in time…

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