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Licenses for Filipino Librarians on LISNews

It's Labor Day. I was really just going to post about how there is really not much data available online about our profession beyond what is on the website of the Professional Regulation Commission and "The Professionalization of Librarians in the Philippines" by Antonio M. Santos (this pdf article includes the passing rate from 1992 to 2002 in Appendix A). And then I was going to compare and contrast the websites of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Philippines' Bureau of Labor and Employment Statistics—the former has a page devoted to librarians (including what they do, job prospects, salaries, etc.), while the latter does not. But all this changed when I discovered that a story on LISNews entitled "Philippines have it right: license librarians like CPAs or Lawyers" has sparked a discussion about licensing for librarians in the United States and has, in fact, become the fourth most popular story on LISNews in the past seven days.

Let me start with a minor quibble regarding the story's title. It would probably be more grammatically correct to say: "The Philippines has it right" (see The Philippines are or is? and The Philippines). I will now make clarificatory comments on certain statements just to set the record straight and not because I disagree with the statements.

They recently amended their laws and require certain specific qualifications before one is allowed to practice librarianship.
Republic Act 6966 (pdf) was implemented in 1992, and repealed with the enactment of Republic Act 9246 in 2004.
It must be a somewhat hard examination as the Manila Standard newspaper reports that 174 examinees of 599 who wrote the certification exam passed.
I was one of the 174 who passed the board exam last year. In the response I delivered when we took our oath, I referred to the fact that "from 1992 to 2003, the passing rate was 50 percent or higher, except for two years: 1992, 36 percent; and 1996, 44 percent. This year the passing rate was 29 percent." The decline in the passing rate was more likely due to the "change in determining examinees’ grades... In previous years, they were using the mean in computing grades." The fact, however, that the two-day exam in Manila took place under less than optimal conditions should not be overlooked.
Perhaps they should do that in the States, it would certainly make it quite apparent that it is indeed a "professional" career not simply someone who shelves books.
This is, I believe, precisely the reason Filipino librarians lobbied for the enactment of the laws on the practice of librarianship. It is sad but true that prior to 1992, many "librarians" were appointed to their positions solely because their relatives said they were qualified for the position. And since the appointing authorities were the same relatives who vouched for the "librarian," there was nothing anyone could do about it. With the new laws, only licensed librarians can be hired by the government for librarian positions. Accrediting agencies for schools and universities also make it a point to make sure that only licensed librarians are hired by institutions seeking accreditation. Some public and private institutions are able to get around the requirement that their librarian be licensed... but that's another story.
It would also help salaries -especially if the pass rate were a similar 29%.
Not in the Philippines. Library leaders in the Philippines (just like those in the US) will say that we actually lack librarians, but this does not translate into higher salaries for those who do get licensed.
If libraries were required to have licensed librarians to get state and federal funding (a policy some states now follow for library management) the licensed librarian : position ratio would improve; thus providing for better prepared librarians providing library service and improved salaries for licensed librarians.
I suppose the licensed librarians we have now are better qualified than those from before, but no studies that I know of have been done regarding this. Improved salaries? Ummm...
I think it is a wonderful idea (I hold licensure/certification from NY, NC, KY and IA already). I am afraid that many librarians will not find the idea as appealing as I even though there are provisions for librarians who have been practicing for years to be grandfathered.
The system seems to be working well enough in terms of making sure that those who are not qualified will not be appointed to librarian positions, but due to the many problems that the Philippines has (see Are We Poor Because We're Catholic?), I'd say that we still have a long way to go.

Related post:

Licensed Librarians

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