Monday, June 17, 2013

Filipino Librarian: Eimee Rhea Lagrama

With LibRadio co hosts, Annie Lim & Elijah Dar Juan. Photo from Ms. Rochelle Silverio's blog,
The blog has two Filipino Librarians featured for the month of June. Ms. Karryl Kim Sagun was featured last week.

This week, we have Ms. Eimee Rhea Lagrama from UP Diliman. She's one of the voices behind LibRadio which is aired every Wednesday at DZUP.

Read her LIS journey below.

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.

Like many ILS students during my time (eons ago, when my college was still called the UP Institute of Library Science), I took my pre-LIS course elsewhere.  It was a running joke among us students that before you can get into ILS you have to come from another college.  Nowadays, more and more incoming freshies take Library and Information Science as a matter of choice, as opposed to a matter of fate.

I was an Engineering student (Dad’s choice), but I hated it so much that I started working on shifting to another course on the 2nd sem of my freshman year.  I really wanted to shift to MassComm, and I thought I didn’t make the cut (I did, but that’s another story), which led me to SLIS and I haven’t looked back.  Years later, who would’ve thought I would get a Kapisanan ng mga Broadkaster sa Pilipinas license without taking a single course in the College of Mass Communications.

I guess the most challenging issue for me as an undergrad was explaining to the people around me what this course is, especially to my parents who at first thought it was a waste of money. (pinag-aaralan pala yan?) Of course now, they think otherwise and would be the first to defend me when people say those things out of ignorance (Excuse me, ang anak ko librarian sa UP, pinadala pa sa Madrid para mag-aral!). 

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?

I have been very fortunate that the work milieu I am in recognizes the importance of our profession, unlike in private companies where you have fight to make an impression in the workplace. 
Despite this, working in a State University means that budget is always a problem and you have to make do with what you have.  There is a huge disconnect with what is taught in the academia and what exists in the real world with regards to what should be and what there actually is.  The bonus though is that we librarians in UP get to be creative and resourceful.

Currently, I am the secretary for Philippine Librarians Association, Inc. – National Board.  It’s rewarding to be part of the professional association for librarians, but we (as a collective) are facing so many issues, it’s so daunting at times. 

With my duties at work, teaching at the UP-SLIS and being in PLAI, my greatest challenge right now is finding the time to...go jogging around the UP Oval. (badum-tish!)

Fiesta de San Isidro in Madrid.

c. What is your area of expertise in LIS?

Since I started working in UP, I’ve been connected in one way or the other with the Filipiniana Collection, first, as a librarian for Filipiniana Books, and later on, heading the Special Collections and Archives.  Safe to say, I know this collection like the back of my hand.  I enjoy doing reference work and research for faculty members, though this can be an occasionally dirty work (literally) .

In addition, as one of the regular hosts for LibRadio: Librarians sa Radyo (heard on DZUP 1602 KHz,an AM Radio show we’ve been doing for almost four years now), I’ve become really immersed in marketing and promotions for the library.  But even before this, I’ve already been doing PR since we host a lot of events in the library and collaborate with various colleges in the university.

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

Aside from education and training, experience is one of the best mentors you can have.  But the experience will be made even more meaningful and profound if you have people who will look after your career.  In my case, I was fortunate to have Mrs. Arlante and Mr. Tarlit as my mentors.  Through the years they were nudging me in my career path.

e. What rewards have you reaped from being a LIS professional?

One of my best experiences was being a becaria  (scholar) at the Archivo Historico Nacional in Madrid for 9 months.  I learned a lot of things, seen a lot of places, made a lot of friends and learned how to speak Spanish.  It comes in handy when I’m reading old documents and rare books.  Some people have asked me to do some translation work, which I’ve done gratis.  They’ve given me food, small gifts and one time, a bunch of roses as a token of gratitude. Everyone in the library thought I had a secret admirer.

Cliche as it may sound, I find it euphoric when a researcher’s face would light up when I help with their research.  I’ve mentioned before that being a librarian is a lot like being a detective; and successfully closing an investigation makes me feel like I’ve won a case.

I think I’ve been watching too many episodes of Law and Order.

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