Thursday, May 9, 2013

Filipino Librarian: Mennie Ruth Viray

This May, high school librarian Mennie Ruth Viray from Colegio San Agustin Makati is the blog's fetaured Filipino Librarian. She graduated from the UP SLIS and is currently pursuing her master's degree in the same university. She's has been a school librarian for four years now.

A. What's your lib story? Describe how you made the choice of majoring in LIS and what was college life like for you as a LIS major. You can cite challenging stories and success stories while studying the course.

Serendipity. This would best describe how I got into studying LIS. I spent my first two years of college in UP Baguio and finally decided to go back here in Manila. I tried to apply in other courses but I guess they didn't work out well. I was sitting with one of my best friends at the sunken garden, feeling a little lost knowing that I haven't qualified in any of the courses I applied in and going back to Baguio was no longer a choice. As we sat down, the sight of the main library building got me and there I thought: “This is my final shot.” Lo and behold, I found myself threading on a new path. I never sought for it, I guess it was the other way around, LIS found me and I'm glad it did.
As a student, my involvement in UP FLIPP (UP Future Library and Information Professionals of the Philippines), a college-based student orgarnization and in the local Student Council for two years helped me deepen my appreciation for the LIS course. Ultimately, my experiences as a student leader helped me form and stregthen my ideals of the profession and the potential it holds to make better our society through service.

B. What has been the greatest challenge you've faced so far as a licensed and working librarian? Why do you say it's a challenge.

Breaking stereotypes would probably remain the primary challenge for most librarians. The process is long and tedious. It requires a lot of work and effort on the part of the librarian especially when the library collection and services are primarily at stake. As LIS professionals, we put our profession in the pedestal knowing what we are capable of doing and our stake in educating and transforming young minds but how other stakeholders perceive us to be is not always the same. How the library and the librarian, are perceived by the administrators, faculty, and students would remain crucial in both the development of the library and the school/community it serves. For administrators, the issue would always be about library finances and the proper allocation whether in terms of the collection, facilities, physical arrangement, and even the professional development of the library staff. For teachers and students, it's making them realize that librarians are also collaborators in their teaching/learning development, that librarians can also be their sources of information and that the library is a wonderful venue for learning outside the four corners of their classrooms.   

C. What is your area of expertise in LIS?

As a budding librarian, I would like to focus my career on literacy, to strengthen the love and appreciation for books and reading to the youth. More importantly, my four years as a school librarian made me realize how crucial our role is in teaching the young generation how to manage information and transform what they know to something more meaningful and worthwhile. But this is just the other side of the fence. Working for a school catering to students from well-off families has not alienated me from the reality that a lot of Filipino children continue to struggle from the lack of access to education --- to libraries and books.  In the near future, I would like to see myself involved in an organization that uplifts reading and literacy among children or even build small community libraries and establish reading/literacy programs in remote areas.    

D. What do you think are the requirements and preparations necessary for becoming a LIS professional?

Hmmm...finish a degree in LIS, find the type of library you think you would enjoy and grow as a librarian, pass the licensure exams, got to have lots of patience, and most of all a heart that beats (and bleeds) service ;)
E. What rewards have you reaped from being a LIS professional?

More than the monetary value, the rewards came more on how I see myself in relation to other people. Working in the library is like having a daily reminder of how important it is to do my work diligently (filing system and shelf reading “a misshelved book is a lost book”), effectively and efficiently (reference service “the right book to the right reader at the right time”) and creatively while staying humble and grateful. 

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