Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Filipino Librarian for January 2014: Elvira Lapuz (1 of 2)

SLIA begins another year of postings on Filipino Librarians. This January, the blog's first featured Filipino Librarian is none other than, Ms. Elvira Lapuz, Head Librarian of the General Reference and Electronic Resources Section, Main Library of UP Diliman. Here is the first part of her interview.

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. 

Everything started in Gonzalez Hall. 

It was 1988 and I was about to start my sophomore year. I was working as a Student Assistant at the UP College of Law Library, a job that gave me an early exposure to Library Work, even before I was an LIS student. It was also around that time when I realized that I had no future in Theater and the performing arts.  Being my mentor, I had to consult Prof. Vyva Aguirre on what to do next. I need to find a college and a course program that would ensure landing a job after graduation. The decision was made when I went up the 3F of Gonzalez upon her instruction. So I inquired for a slot at the then Institute of Library Science. And I should say that it was the start of a truly colorful, memorable and full of learning three years of college life. I had no difficulty integrating and finding my place at the Institute. The ILS being a small unit, it was quite easy to get to know everyone. I remember that during that time, there are more students enrolled in the graduate classes and only a handful, around 30, undergraduate students. It was easy to make friends with the other students. I get to see the same names and faces in most of my major classes. I was also very involved and was actively participating in the various activities of college based student organization. Unlike now that there seem to more organizations than the number of students, we only had then the UPLISSA (UP Library and Information Science Students’ Association) which was a student organization and also the student council. I can say that it was like a big “barkada” then. My active participation with the activities of the UPLISSA gave me the opportunity to meet library science students from other schools. We participated in the activities of LISSAP (Library Science Student Association of the Philippines), an inter-university students organization. I distinctly remember Fr. Paul De Vera, OSB as one of our faculty advisers. 

Ms. Lapuz is also a DJ in the radio show, LibRadio DZUP 1602.
Catch her on-air every Wednesday with Elijah Dar Juan and Annie Lim
We had the most brilliant professors and instructors. We studied and learned both through the traditional and modern methods. The use of computers was integrated in our courses, which during that time entitled us to some bragging rights. I would forever be thankful to one truly remarkable lady, Ms. Patricia B. CariƱo. She was my professor in Information Handling and Library Management, and though for some, being in her class would be a terrifying experience, I found her teaching style very challenging. She thought us more than what was in our syllabus. I learned from her facts and details about life and living for she was one teacher who would find time to really talk to her students. As the faculty in charge of our Practicum during my senior year and as we are identifying the libraries to which we will be assigned, she asked that one very important question which somehow defined for me that path I should be taking. “Where do you see yourself working in the future?” A very simple question but it made me realize that in less than a year, I would be armed with a degree in library and information science and I should be making a decision as to which type of library I should consider applying. My reply came almost automatically. I told her I could only see myself working in an academic library, and hopefully the U.P. Library  She seemed to be very pleased with my answer and immediately made arrangements that for my Practicum, I would be assigned at the U.P. Main Library. 

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? 

Though Librarianship has always been identified and regarded as one of the less stressful jobs, the challenges that a librarian and information professional face on a daily basis seem to be never-ending. Working in an academic library was not in any way different. From the student who is totally loss in the library labyrinth to the faculty member who has ran out of patience waiting for his requested reading, the challenge of being able to provide the most efficient and effective service to clients is an everyday fare. An academic librarian could only shift from one role to the next, a teacher and instructor to a student trying to find that most elusive reference for his Literature class assignment, expert colleague to faculty members compiling bibliography and class readings, and a walking manual to library clients trying to make sense of all the gadgets and electronic resources present in the Library. 

Ms. Lapuz is a fan of Richard Yap.
See how their clothes complement each other!
One real challenge to me and I supposed to any librarian for that matter, is how to make more with less. Financial limitations and budgetary constraints make it extremely difficult to proceed and move further with what was originally included in many proposed library development plans. Librarians are expected to do budget planning that takes more than just the knowledge of how to allocate and work on expenditures, it should also provide for alternative fund sources. I have yet to hear a librarian say that he has more than enough for his Library. It seems that the Library for all its supposed importance and significant contributions to the Institutions is always the Unit that is left to fend for itself. 

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