Friday, October 20, 2017

Filipino Librarian of the Month: Apolo Martinez Patron (1 of 2)

Our Filipino Librarian of the Month is Mr. Apolo Martinez Patron who topped the 2017 Board Exam for Librarians. In this interview, he shares his librarian origin story and this thoughts on the strengths and challenges that Philippine Librarianship faces today.

Before I start spilling the beans, I would first like to express my deepest thanks to be featured in the blog of Ms. Zarah Gagatiga. It is an honor (to be a guest in her blog). Way back 2015, when I first saw her in Ang Pinaka of GMA News TV, I wished to meet her in person because she is a “lodi” (idol) in librarianship and because she has great Philippine children literary works. 
What is your librarianship story? 

My roots in librarianship started back in my elementary days. I’m a reader back then and I usually spent my after class/before class/afternoons/summer and even Christmas vacations at San Nicolas Public Library at Binondo.

Our house was just few streets away from it, and it was just beside my elementary school. I read all sorts of books that caught my interest and laid my hands on them. Encyclopedia (Colliers, Britannica, and New World), old subscriptions of magazines such as Readers Digest or National Geographic, story books, text books (which most public libraries have numerous volumes of due to donations). As for fiction, there weren’t much bestselling or new releases but I enjoyed reading the titles they had.

My high school which was also near (the public library). I didn't go to the library as often as before, I made sure to drop by. I’ve seen how the old librarians were replaced by new ones whom I became close to like Ms. Raquel Gomez and Ms. Cristy Barera. My high school days was the weirdest and nerdiest phase of my life. Fiction became my world and Harry Potter became my best friend. I opted to take up Journalism or Literature for that reason but people I am close to advised me to take a more practical degree in college like Secondary Education. I almost took that course, but good thing the librarians of San Nicolas advised me to take Library and Information Science instead.

Quite timely because the Central Student Council of University of Santo Tomas went to our public school and offered us to take a scholarship exam. I passed that  exam as well as the USTET (entrance test), so I decided to take Bachelor of Library Science as first choice program & Bachelor of Arts, Major in Literature as the second. Since I was told that not only is there a board exam for the profession but there a strong demand for librarians here and outside the country, I decided to study under the College of Education and take up Bachelor of Library and Information Science gratefully. Thanks to University of Santo Tomas (for this career guidance). I also worked as a Student Assistant at UST Miguel de Benavides Library which was part of the scholarship. This was a win-win situation for me.  Basically that’s how and why a patron such I became a librarian.

2. What do you think is Philippine Librarianship's greatest asset and most needed improvement? 

We take pride in our profession. Offering the Library and Information Science at Bachelor degree level is quite a trademark of our country. Western countries and even ASEAN nations offer it as Master’s degree. Also the board exam shows that even if it is an underrated profession, there’s a big need for us in our country. Learning it during college and continuing education either inside or outside the country is what instilled in the minds of those taking this profession. Even though Philippine librarianship is quite young compared to other profession, there is already great progress and development in the field. It is an asset that we are a legally mandated profession because it shows how crucial librarians are in an institution, most especially in the academe and the school setting.

Most needed improvement I do think for Philippine Librarianship is in regards with Public Librarianship. Up until now, it is not a priority as what UP-SLIS Dean Kathleen Lourdes Obille said.

I myself experienced that because the San Nicolas Public Library, up until now doesn’t even have computers with internet connection. This could help a lot of the Binondo patrons such as students who make up the majority of users. Also Special Libraries here in our country are few. There are numerous good institutions with knowledge management office, or information centers or libraries but I think aside from the Public Sector, Special Librarianship is also one unappreciated sector of our Profession.

Research and standardize materials for LIS students learning about the profession are limited and titles of resources are few. We do have a vast number of journals but I think it is more important to have standardized and recommended books or resources that are aligned to Philippine librarianship. Our resources are foreign based which is why some principles or ideas are too idealistic & unrealistic or not that feasible. 

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