This July, the blog's featured Filipino Librarian is Mr. Martin Julius V. Perez. He is a graduate of BLIS from UP Diliman and is currently pursuing MLIS in the same university. He works in Far Eastern University.
a. What's your lib story? Describe how you made the choice of majoring in LIS and what college life was like for you as a LIS major. You can cite challenging stories and success stories while studying the course.
My lib story in 2 words: fate and choice.
Way back in high school, working as a librarian wasn't part of my dreams and plans. I can't even see myself working as one - sitting in the library counter and shelving the books that the students used, but rather I want to become a psychologist who interprets personalities of people. While filling out the application form for the UPCAT, I chose Bachelor of Science in Psychology as my first choice, and randomly, the Bachelor of Library and Information Science (BLIS) as my second choice, for these reasons: BLIS is a non-quota course (as they say), it has the word "information" (maybe interesting!) and, yeah, I just really wanted to study in UP Diliman. To cut the story short, I passed the UPCAT and got accepted for the BLIS degree and enrolled for it. I was one of those "original" UPCAT passers for that academic year in the School of Library and Information Studies (SLIS), meaning after high school, BLIS is our first course in UP. Not still convinced in pursing it, I told myself that I will just shift out of SLIS after a year (a common practice among "original" UPCAT passers) to pursue Psychology.
Things went different against my plans and my expectations. My image of librarianship and of librarians changed as I'm studying the course. I learned to like (and later love) this profession. The neighborhood-like environment and the opportunities for LIS professionals (that I learned in my LIS 51 subject - Introduction to LIS) made me decide to stay in SLIS and pursue the course. I joined a college-based student organization, the UP Future Library and Information Professionals of the Philippines (UP FLIPP), which also greatly influenced me to stay in LIS and advocate for the promotion of this profession. Through the UP FLIPP too, I was given the opportunity to become a student leader and this experience really honed my ideals and potentials to serve and to dream to become a leader of this profession someday. From there on, I chose to pursue, excel and contribute to LIS.
As an LIS student in UP, life was both awesome and challenging. Awesome, that you know you're getting the best training from the oldest and best LIS school in the Philippines, wherein you have the chance to meet some of the best professors and mentors in the field, and that you almost know everyone in the SLIS community, since a few are pursuing it. I was able to take this opportunity to give my best and excel in this field as a student. On the other hand, challenging, that you have to always answer and explain, even to your friends, questions and comments like: "so, you want to become a librarian, why?" "what do librarians do?" "so you have to study just to lend books?" "ay may ganyan pala" and many others. There were times, when people outside the college, including some friends, would remark that LIS is just an easy course and so I have to point out subjects like classification and cataloging, and share LIS jargon.
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 started my first formal employment in 2011, not a very long time ago, when I joined the Far Eastern University as a library assistant, and later as a librarian. As a neophyte in this arena, I could say that the greatest challenge I’ve faced and currently facing is integrating myself to the profession, at the same time proving & making myself worthy to be called a librarian or an LIS professional in the country. I think this is the same dilemma that most of the new LIS graduates or newly licensed librarians are now facing.
I found it a challenge because for me it is like entering a profession of established professionals with expectations to meet, advocacies and virtues to nurture and uphold. It is a challenge between myself and the profession, because for me working as a librarian is not just finishing the degree, not just passing the licensure examination and not just getting a library work nor about money matters or pure career thingy, but rather growing with the profession – contributing to its development and leaving (positive and lasting) a mark. I believe I will be facing more challenges as I grow in this profession and I accept the challenge!
c. What is your area of expertise in LIS?
As a young librarian who has just started my career in LIS, I can say that I still don’t have that established “expertise” in the field. Probably, I can consider library research as the closest, and which I love to do.
Instead, I will just share my areas of interest in LIS. My present work and experience in the Far Eastern University Library is driving my interest to academic librarianship and its aspects. Aside from this, I have lots of areas (yeah many!) of interest in LIS namely: archives and records management, library education, local studies centers, Filipiniana, rare books and special collections, information literacy, digitization, digital libraries and repositories, law librarianship and international librarianship among others! Well I don’t know which of them will be my “future” expertise, but I’m sure I’ll be pursuing specialization in one or two or three of them or even merge some. J
d. What do you think are the requirements and preparations necessary for becoming an LIS professional?
Aside from finishing your formal education - LIS degree in either your bachelor's or master's, and successfully passing PRC's licensure examination for librarians, I think to be become an (effective) LIS professional, you should also have that interest, will and passion for service. Since librarianship is truly a service-oriented profession, when you join it, you must keep in mind that you may not became that very rich, in terms of money. Rewards in other forms may come to your path and sometimes they are unexpectedly.
Since the profession is continually evolving and moving forward, love for learning and continuous growth is also an essential trait that an aspiring one should possess. Also, experience is one of the greatest mentors who can mold and help you become an effective LIS professional, and so do as a real mentor, in real life situations, who could be your professor, superior, friend or colleague. I significantly attribute what I have now in the profession to my real life mentors. Thanks to them!
e. What rewards have you reaped from being an LIS professional?
Rewards? Well, you will easily get a job (most of the time)! Librarians and LIS professionals are in demand! Joining this profession also opened a lot of doors and windows of opportunities for me. In that span of time, I experienced stupendous things for me at this point of my life. I was given the chance to meet and befriend awesome people including scholars LIS professionals, and prominent personalities, to conduct and collaborate doing researches and write papers, as well as present them in conferences / seminars and, believe it or not, to travel to places here and abroad. One of the most memorable was my first attendance to the IFLA World Library and Information Congress 2012 in Helsinki, Finland. I never thought it would be a dream come true for a neophyte like me, who have just entered the profession.