On "Library Science ka lang naman"

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A week ago, a post by someone on Twitter spread throughout librarians' social media circles and as expected, the comment by said ignorant person backfired on him when librarians answered back. Well, let's give the person a break first - at least he admitted his own mistake, apologized, and was educated as well on what librarians really do. Though I feel that the apology was quite 'plastic' (though this is only my opinion).

By the way, a few librarians also posted brilliant replies: this essay by Gillian Reyes and a short comment by Sir Stephen Alayon (my LIS teacher). I would like to reply, wow, this guy is saying that about UP Library Science, which is one of the best LIS schools in the country? I mean, almost all LIS schools, teachers, and librarians look up to the UP-SLIS and they're being underestimated by an ignorant person? By the way, as a Cataloger, I kind of want to explain to him MARC records, RDA, and show him examples of software and demonstrate what an Integrated Library System can do.

First, we really can't blame him. Its already a common perception of librarians as a somewhat 'lower' profession compared to other professions. As librarians know, stereotypes and the bad image of librarians still affect how others see us. Even as an undergraduate BLIS student, I often here these kind of comments when asked about my course:

Question: "So what's your course?"
Me: "BLIS - Bachelor of Library and Information Science."
*They have a strange expression on their faces and answer either of these choices:*
  • "But there's the internet already, right?"
  • "Is there an actual course for that? Wow, maybe that's cool because the work is easy - you just sit there in the library and guard the books, right?"
  • "You must really read a lot."

When people say these, I try to give a general gist of what librarians do. I explain that the library is just like any organization - we plan, budget, organize, and manage for the resources and manpower of the library. Before I was a Library Science student, I didn't really think of the many processes that occur before a book in the library is available to us. Though, I was already an avid user of libraries and I was appreciative of librarians before I became one.

I guess we librarians should expect these kind of comments. For me, it isn't that surprising, but at least librarians knew how to answer. So what do we do when someone says this or posts something like this in social media? I propose one thing - give a clear description of Library Science and the possible careers from studying it, and persuade the person to consider Library Science. If someone is ignorant and just criticize librarians without actually knowing what they do, then as librarians, its our job to educate that person!

As librarians, we already have many roles to play. I think that we should also be good 'library evangelists' and try to make people see the importance of libraries and librarians. They might not have a good experience with libraries before, so we must show them examples of great libraries and what good librarians can do.

I'd like to show them the work of someone like Ms. Ma. Lorna Eguia, whose bibliotherapy project for Typhoon Yolanda victims have touched many lives and gave hope to many people during a difficult time for the country. Mr. Quintin Pastrana, who isn't a librarian but found the Library Renewal Partnership, an organization helping local libraries grow and provide quality information sources to communities. There are other people in the profession who have helped me grow as a librarian and as a person, but listing all of them here would make a really long essay.

I hope that the next time someone criticizes our profession like this, I wish we wouldn't bash him too early (even if their irritating language invites us to fight back and answer right away) but try to make him or her a friend of the library.

Anyway, I end this post with what Sir Stephen said, with a good informational video about LIS:
Sana dumami pa po mag enrol sa Bachelor of Library and Information Science (BLIS). The country needs more than 50,000 Library and Information Science Professionals. More than 8,000 pa lang po kami na may license. Baka may mga anak po kayo, pamangkin, kamag-anak, kaibigan, kakilala, na di pa alam kukuning kurso, pakuhain niyo po ng Bachelor of Library and Information Science BLIS. Pagkagraduate, sigurado may trabaho. Salary grade 11, 12, 13, 15, even up to 24 "lang" naman po ang nasa govt. na librarians. Enrol na!
Klasrum: Ano ang kursong Bachelor of Library and Information Science?

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