Friday, February 18, 2011

Love a Librarian: When Given the Chance, Make the Choice!

Madame Fe Angela Verzosa's first love is history. Then again, the LIS profession has given her the opportunity to pursue her first love and has become one of the revered voices in Library and Archives Management and Preservation. She writes so eloquently of that first time when the opportunity to work in the library came a knocking!

Becoming a librarian was the farthest thing on my mind when I was in college pursuing a liberal arts degree in History.  My ambition then was to follow the footsteps of Herodotus, notEratosthenesBut, admittedly, I enjoyed immensely my short stint as a student assistant at the UP Main Library and at the Student Union in 1964-5.  For two semesters, I carried tons of books for Circulation readers, and dug into the Serials stacks searching for missing periodical issues on request.  And, for one whole summer, I was detailed at the Student Union building, organizing a small book collection at the Lounge’s Browsing Library (where library patrons could eat and drink, even smoke!), and ran after students taking out the current issues of newspapers and popular magazines from the rack.  After graduation, I embarked on a full-time teaching career.

I started working in the library again, in 1967 when I was asked by Dr. Serafin D. Quiason, newly appointed Library Director, to work on the joint project of the University of Michigan and the National Library on the organization and microfilming of the Quezon Papers under the direction of Dr. Isagani R. Medina, who was then on sabbatical leave from the UP Library.  I thought then it was “cool” working in the library again, and with “Sir Gani”, my favorite librarian at UP.  And, who could say no when your former History Professor and Adviser (Dr. Quiason) visits you at home and offers you a job that allows you to work on primary historical sources and to learn new skills in preserving rare manuscripts?  Plus, I had the opportunity to teach History at Lyceum of the Philippines as part-time lecturer in the evening, since it was only walking distance from work.  I had the time of my life - having the best of both worlds!

So everyday for two years, I woke up at dawn to be an hour early at work at the National Library’s Filipiniana Division, and to be surrounded by rare books and manuscripts.  I was completely engrossed in work that on one occasion, I was locked up inside (there was no warning then of closing time) and it took almost midnight before I was fetched by Mrs. Benita de la Rosa, the Chief Filipiniana Librarian (who was the only one who held the keys to the room, and at the time she was notified, she just arrived home from a late movie show).  When the project was nearly completed, I thought I would be going back to full- time teaching, until Miss Marina Dayrit convinced me to help set up the Microfilm Section at the UP Main Library and to organize the Carlos P. Romulo Papers.

From thereon, one opportunity after another, the challenges of working with special library collections and preserving them for posterity were too irresistible to refuse.  There was no looking back.  There was only looking forward.  Whether destiny happens by chance or by choice is of no consequence, because when the chances came, I chose.  And that’s how I became a Librarian, and until now, loving and embracing the profession I chose, with open arms.

This is a picture of me at the top of Mt. Samat, feeling high, because it was taken at the time I just received my new appointment as Library Director of De La Salle University in May 1994.

1 comment:

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