Thursday, July 28, 2005

105 'useless' librarians

There is this revolting article by Adrian Cristobal in the Manila Bulletin Online that I kept on reading and reading. I'm trying to understand his point and intention for writing the article. Good thing that I read the Filipino Librarian's post on the same issue before reacting. Well, I don't really get mad. I get even.

It is in the Opinion section of the online daily, so that gives readers enough room to respond. So this is how I make of his arrogant article.

Cristobal proclaims that the Administration (GMA's of course, but sometimes I think that she is a mere puppet of the kapre) will never succeed in "educating" the people on the importance and necessity of Charter Change because, the people has no access to the printed word. The people rely on TV for information on congressional investigations and the SONA.

From this vantage point, I am slowly beginning to construct my understanding of his views though I find it brimming with sarcasm. The people won't be able to critically think on the advantages and disadvantages of Charter Change because, "What they see on the idiot box is more revealing than a thousand words". The Filipino would rather watch TV and base their judgment from canned and scripted presentations of facts. Broadcast media may be able to persuade, convince and motivate the people but it takes an intelligent reader to analyze what the visual representations of facts and truths are really all about. Sitting in front of the TV, watching things happen does not challenge a person to think critically, but READING the printed word is empowering.

In Cristobal's lament on budget cuts, that books are always the first to be sacrificed reflects the Filipino government's crooked priorities. Our government never put a high premium on education. Generally speaking, we don't have a reading culture and investment on learning and the pursuit of knowledge and wisdom is beyond us. How can we, as a people, critically and intelligently ponder on Charter Change?

Libraries as scholarly bastions and laboratories of learning is an alien concept. No one reads, after all. If there are, those belong to the intellectual elite who make up a small portion of the populace. So, what use are Philippine libraries? What use are librarians who work in libraries?

I'm not blaming my fellow librarians, not at all. There are librarians out there who have contributed to the growth of the profession. But you see, a snarky, mean, arrogant writer like Christobal claims that librarians are useless because, librarians, you, me, all of us - we have allowed it to be so. Cristobal's article is actually a wake up call. It prompts me to reflect and ask so many questions.

Philippine Librarianship is aching for reforms. Philippine Librarianship is thristing for changes in paradigms and practices. Can we look at the history of Philippine librarianship and see what impact have we made in nation building? How did we, as professionals contribute to learning, literacy and the promotion of culture and the arts? What are we doing now to make a difference in our respective institutions and in the lives of those we interact with? Have we gone beyond seminars and fellowships? What of the research and studies that students of LIS and MLIS finish every year? Do we have realistic standards that upgrades and lifts our profession?

I don't know. I don't have all the answers.

But my vision is to see Filipino librarians who are proactive, visible, assertive committed and courageous. We can only do that, if we are united, if we share common goals, if we respect each other, if we are objective at dealing with issues. We need to be leaders. And we need to look at ourselves first to make the change.

I will do just that. Tomorrow, as my school celebrates the feast of St. Ignatius of Loyola, I will look at myself and examen my conscience. Am I useless or usefull?

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