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Wanted: Proactive Librarians as Leaders

While libraries are front and center in two new articles (see "ARMM gov orders establishment of libraries in LGUs" [PIA Press Release, 25 October 2007] and "Public libraries and Kaakbay" by Neni Sta. Romana Cruz [Philippine Daily Inquirer, 27 October 2007]), librarians are mentioned almost as an afterthought. I do not blame the authors, however, for this treatment.

I have groused about the invisibility of librarians before, but after blogging for more than two years, monitoring what appears in print and online about Filipino librarians, contributing what I can to promote librarians worth emulating, and encouraging others to write about their own experiences, I think it's time to admit that the fault lies "not in our stars, but in ourselves."

Many librarians complain that their communities think they do not do anything but sit at their desks and stamp books. But what, I usually ask, are they doing to dispel this notion? We need to be more proactive about communicating and interacting with our own communities, and networking—and working—with other literacy and library advocates.

I have gotten feedback that projects initiated by "outsiders" were left unsupported by library "insiders" because the latter felt that they should be the ones taking the lead. And all I could do was shake my head, and admit that some of our more influential librarians can be rather shortsighted. There are, of course, certain things that "insiders" can do better than "outsiders," but when more of them do research about our own work, and it is because of them that Filipiniana is freely available online, I think we need to thank them, instead of criticizing them for encroaching on our turf.

Enough. If you'd like to see more of what I've written about this, click here: Leadership.

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