Friday, September 7, 2012

My Life as A Librarian (2 of 3)

Finally. I am now able to answer the set of questions sent by Mr. Egipto of St. Louis University. My apologies for turning this in so late. There are urgent circumstances I need to deal with at the moment.

Briefly, would you summarize your work history & education for me?

This is what I give when I get to answer a question like the one above -

Zarah Gagatiga has fourteen solid years of work experience as school librarian and coordinator of the Grade School Learning Resource Center of Xavier School. She is now a Teacher Librarian at Beacon Academy, an  International Baccalaureate School offering the Middle Years Program and the Diploma Program. She was part of the Philippine delegation to the Southeast Asian Conference on School Library Services sponsored by IFLA-UNESCO in Bangkok, Thailand (2003). In 2002, she presented a workshop in the 2nd Storytelling Congress in Singapore. She has toured the different regions in the Philippines for library workshops and storytelling sessions in schools and communities since then. Among other things, she is also a teacher-trainor, writer-blogger, reading clinician, a seasoned PAASCU accreditor (basic education) for the area of Instructional Media Center, library consultant for Sambat Trust, a charity based in the UK, and chair of the Philippine Board On Books for Young People (PBBY).

Her first book, Tales From the 7,000 Isles: Filipino Folk Stories with co-author, international storyteller-author Dianne de Las Casas was published last October 2011 by ABC-CLIO, USA. Visit Zarah's blog at

Iskolar ako ng bayan sa undergard at graduate level. I still yet to finish my MA in LIS.

What special aspects of your work experience have prepared you for this job?

My mother is a librarian. I believe she prepared me early on by modeling the reading habit and raising me up a reader. I remember spending my summers in the library where she worked.

Can you describe for me one or two of your most important accomplishments?

I have a license - both in teaching and in librarianship. I am a published book author.

How much supervision have you typically received in your previous job?

I experienced being supervised clinically, formatively and, having earned a number of senior years, I was able to do my own self-supervision.

Describe for me one or two of the biggest disappointments in your work history?

None. I see failure and mistakes as opportunities for learning and self-discovery.

Why are you leaving your present job? (or, Why did you leave your last job?)

At some point, a professional will look for new challenges and will seek change. I experienced both. So, I resigned from my former job; spent two years doing freelance work which afforded me time to reflect; and then, saw an opportunity to do something familiar, yet different.

Everyone has strengths & weaknesses as workers. What are your strong points for this job?
What would you say do areas need improvement?

Strong points: my work experience and sphere of network or linkages. Points for improvement: understanding and living the International Baccaluareate paradigms.

When you have been told, or discovered for yourself, a problem in your job performance, what have you typically done? Can you give me an example?

As a working mom, attendance was a challenge especially at the time when our kids were young. I responded to the challenge by working out a routine and a schedule of work and domestic duties that were well planned. Now, my kids are older and more independent so, I've overcome the challenge on attendance.

What kind of people or library patrons do you find it most difficult to work with? Why?

None, but, the challenge is knowing every kind of library patron and how best to deal with each kind. This skill is learned overtime.

Starting with your last and present job, tell me about any of your achievements that were recognized by your superiors.

I have organized a preschool library; set up learning environments where IT is integrated in a library skills instruction program; passed the PAASCU accreditation for the school library I managed; and now, I am in the process of establishing a high school library for a new high school in Binan, Laguna.

These accomplishments would not be possible if the support of the school administration to the library and its personnel is lacking or, none at all.

What are some things you would like to avoid in a job? Why?

Challenges should not be avoided, but should be dealt with. Knowing how to face the challenges is an essential survival skill.

In your previous job what kind of pressures did you encounter?

Establishing a library and setting up effective programs and services that library patrons need to be aware of pose enough pressure.

What are some of the things on your job you feel you have done particularly well or in which you have achieved the greatest success? Why do you feel this way?

I think I have answered these questions. Go back to read and review.

What were some of the things about your job that you found most difficult to do?

Collection development is the most challenging especially because IT changes the game in a pace that is so fast it important that librarians keep up. Better yet, know IT well enough to be leaders in the profession.

What are some of the problems you encounter in doing your job? Which one frustrates you the most? What do you usually do about it?

Working with difficult people is a challenge. But, we all are human beings. Having said this, I am more compassionate and less judgmental of people I deal with in the work place. Being able to communicate one's ideas properly, in speech and writing can help overcome difficulties. Another difficulty that librarians deal with is the stereotype of the library as a warehouse, and the librarian as custodian. Librarians need to advocate the profession as a relevant profession.

What are some things you particularly liked about your job?

Reading. And sharing this love and culture of reading to others.

What special aspects of your education or training have prepared you for this job?

I am a reader. I read a lot. Reading is the easiest and most accessible way to grow professionally.

What is your long-term employment or career objective?

To carry on setting up libraries and teaching others to use libraries. I think libraries will never go out of style.

What kind of job do you see yourself holding five years from now?

I'd still be a librarian. Teaching in the university, maybe. I also see myself in the training and consultancy area.

What do you feel you need to develop in terms of skill & knowledge in order to be ready for future outreach program/activities?

Strengthen library management skills; understand different kinds of people more; device structures for these peoples to grow and develop literacy centers themselves.

Who or what in your life would you say influenced you most with your career objectives?

As far as my career is concerned, my mom plays a big role in my life as a librarian.

Can you pinpoint any specific things in your past experience that affected your present career objectives?

I have worked with non-government organizations that have literacy campaigns and advocacy. These NGOs influenced me in some ways.

What would you most like to accomplish in a library?

Make that library a functional one.

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