Book review: LAYB LIFE, Mga Kwento at Karanasan ng Isang Librarian by Michael Pinto, RL

Layb Life: mga kwento at karanasan ng isang librarian by Michael Pinto. Quezon City: Great Books, ©2013.

Warning at the book's beginning: "Bawal ang pikon. Bato-bato sa langit, ang tamaan huwag magrereact! Ang pikon ay guilty!"

For Filipino librarians, you may know Michael Pinto as the current President of Philippine Librarians Association, Inc. or PLAI. I first heard him talk during a seminar in CPU years ago, and hearing him on a talk in person is thought-provoking and funny at the same time. I actually bought this book during the PLAI National Congress in Ilocos last 2015, I've browsed it and read some sections, but I sat down and decided to read the book again from start to finish. As the title implies, it contains separate chapters dealing with the good, the bad, the ugly, and the funny in a librarians' daily experience.

The author's career is unique as at the age of 25 (my age!) he has been the youngest ever librarian to be the Director of Libraries in his institution. He presents his personal experiences that they don't teach in library school. I find it so amusing since the experiences he talked about the book was very near to mine and I think it will resonate with a lot of Filipino librarians. If you are a library manager or employee, you will laugh, cry, and also learn valuable lessons about dealing with people.

The first chapter, "Buhay Librarian" is a general description of different kinds of libraries and librarians you may encounter. This chapter may be a great introduction to non-librarians to library work. I think that this book is best for fresh graduates, new employees, and Library Science students. This is also great for high school students or parents who want to have an idea of what to expect from the Library Science college course.

In "Wow Mali!" presents the wrong practices people usually do in the libraries. Teachers making the library their salon, books being kept and not used, the sad state of some libraries. It's very funny but also makes you think: am I doing these things? If these are happening in my library, what can I do? In "D.O.L." the author describes his experience in being the Director of Libraries. Things get more personal in "Naiistress ka na ba sa trabaho mo?" since most of us employees have been stressed at some point. This book reminds us that we should also take care of ourselves and make time for our families, and if our workplace brings too much stress in our lives that it's taking a toll on our health or relationships, maybe it's time to think about resigning.

Most of the chapters tackle the various personalities in the library. There are chapters dedicated to what kind of boss, librarian, employee, job applicant, student assistant, or library client are you. There are also two chapters that will make you think: "Plants vs. Zombies" and "To be or not to be Idealistic or Impulsive?" deals with the author's experiences and opinions on the professional organizations of librarians. These chapters are mostly about the differing opinions between the younger and older generations of librarians. If you are a member of PLAI or any professional library organization, these two chapters are pretty insightful.

Each chapter is worth a read, because the tone is light and funny. The book is in Tagalog and the language quite reminded me of Bob Ong (if he was a librarian). Though the book is specifically about librarians, the ordinary Filipino reader can also have a good laugh over it and probably change his or her perspective about libraries and librarians.

I gave the book a 5-star rating in Goodreads, but my only complaint about the book is a technical one. The font is inconsistent, the spacing in between is okay in some paragraphs but looks too compressed in others and makes it hard to read (as someone who wears glasses and is practically blind without them). I had to slow down to read it clearly. If they have new editions of the book, I hope they change this minor thing.

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