Friday, December 13, 2013
Filipino Librarian: Joy Fajardo Nera
In this interview, she reveals to us her library journey. It has been a delightful one. Read on!
What’s my your story?
First of all, my baccalaureate degree is not Library Science. I’m a Bachelor of Arts major in Political Science graduate. I also have my Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service. I earned these degrees from the Lyceum of the Philippines University (used to be Lyceum of the Philippines) in Intramuros. I never imagined that someday I will have a Library Science degree and that I will be working in a library. Although I have an aunt who was a librarian from Bulacan, Library Science was not included in my choices of courses to take after I finished my secondary education.
After finishing my ABPS and BSFS, I was offered to teach part time in Lyceum. While taking my MA in Public Administration (also in Lyceum), I taught one or two Political Science subjects (Philippine Constitution and Intro to Political Science). Later on I was offered to work in the Sotero H. Laurel Library as a Library Assistant. Because I love to stay in the library when I was still a student and perhaps out of curiosity, I accepted the offer and I was assigned in the Engineering Library.
Having no idea of what librarianship is all about, I decided to take up first some units of Library Science instead of continuing my MA in Public Administration. When I inquired in CEU for their LS undergrad course, I was advised by Dr. Teresita Calma (the former Ms. Tess Hernandez) to enroll in the Graduate Studies program and take the required 18 units in the MA program instead of the undergrad.
I was very thrilled to study library science. At first, I found the technical subjects very difficult especially the Cataloging and Indexing. What do I know about Library of Congress? I could explain the word congress if it has something to do with the Lower House or Philippine Congress because of my political science background but not Library of Congress. I had to exert more efforts because I didn’t have any LS background at all. Some of my classmates were senior librarians while a few were already Head or Chief Librarians. Having Mrs. Corazon Nera as our Cataloging and Indexing Professor added fuel to the fire. I really had double my efforts to be able to cope up with all the requirements. Everyone was given the same treatment whether one was already a practicing librarian or somebody who was “trying to become a librarian.” But honestly speaking, I had so much fun and my LS education was filled with lots of wonderful experiences.
So to make the story short, after a couple of years, I earned my MA in Library Science in October 1995. I took the Board Exam the following year. Luckily, I took my oath as a professional librarian in December 1996.
After being sworn as a professional librarian, I decided to give up my teaching career in the field of Political Science or Foreign Service. I just found myself having a great time in my new found profession.
However, having my MALS diploma didn’t stop me from studying more. I was looking for a university offering a Ph. D in Library Science. Because there was no university offering this specialization, I took my Ph. D with Specialization in Educational Management instead with library science as my field of concentration. My dissertation is a qualitative study of the Phenomenology of the Information Technology : Its Demands and Challenges in Managing Academic Libraries.
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?
The greatest challenge I’ve faced being a librarian was when I decided to give up my being an academic librarian in order to enter the world of a school librarian. Working in an academic library for almost 10 years, I was challenged to embrace a different set-up and services of a school library in 1998 when I joined Assumption College High School Department.
Having spent almost ten years in an academic environment, I had a temporary culture shock during the first few months of dealing with high school students. I saw myself starting from scratch. Aside from the LC classification system, I also had to familiarize myself with DDC. From a once every start of semester library orientation to college students, I found myself preparing Library Instructions not only to High School but also to Grade School students which were scheduled on a regular basis. My typical quite research type library scenario for almost ten years was replaced with an environment where I had to remind little girls not to run and play hide and seek inside the library.
I thought I will not be able to finish my contract and come back again to an academic library. However, as time goes by, I realized that my new environment added more colors to my professional life. Dealing with children who are always dressed up with their favorite book characters during our yearly Reading Month activities gave me a new meaning and deeper understanding of what a librarian really is. Whether I am dressed as a character in the book Chinese Cinderella or as Esmeralda in the book The Hunchback of Notre Dame is always something to look forward too every November.
It’s already my 16th year as a school librarian and everyday when I go to my work, I look forward to an extra ordinary and more colorful library experience I will have with the students.
What is your area of expertise in LIS?
Being the coordinator for almost 16 years, I guess its library management I can call my field of expertise.
What do you think are the requirements and necessary preparations necessary for becoming a LIS professional?
Personally, I think if one would like to become a LIS professional, he or she should be open to working with people, technology and lots and lots of information. He/she should be a “ jack of all trades and master of all too.” Future librarians should have passion for not just for knowledge but for everything of value and interest.
As for the other requirements, of course, there will always be educational and licensure requirements.
When it comes to skills requirement, a prospective librarian should have technical knowledge and training. He/She should be equipped with computer skills and knowledge. He/She should also posses organizational and management skills, interpersonal skills/customer service skills as well as research and evaluation skills.
What rewards have you reaped from being a LIS professional?
I usually say I owe it to my profession why I became a member of the Nera clan. My life and love story might not be this way if I didn’t join the field of librarianship. I met my husband through my mother-in-law who happened to be my professor and thesis adviser in my MA program. My life might not be this happy and colorful if I didn’t follow my instinct of becoming a librarian.
On a more professional note, I think the happiness I gained knowing that I am part of a child’s education and learning experiences is something I might not have felt if I didn’t become a librarian.
I mentioned before in one of the talks I shared to fellow librarians that it always makes me happy knowing that I have shared the love of reading to children. It’s a different fulfillment every time a student comes to me sharing me what she learned from a book she just read. The joy of knowing that I have inspired children to read is something I will always be proud of.
Here are just some of the letters I received from students which made me realized I was correct in choosing this profession :
Knowing that I have touched a child’s life to the extent that she hoped that I will have a happy, safe and healthy life is something I will always cherish for the rest of my life.