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Filipino Librarians in Vancouver

Grace Valente, Mercy AlmodovarGrace Valente (left) and Mercy Almodovar

Update: It just occurred to me that I should have used their first names below, instead of impersonal surnames, because it would have been fun to end the post with "Yes, I was blessed with Grace and Mercy" =)

In "Proudly Filipino in Vancouver," I promised to write about Filipino librarians in Vancouver. Well, three weeks later, I'm finally getting around to it. And that's pretty good, considering that I still have a lot of outstanding promises =)

Grace Valente and Mercy Almodovar were both librarians at the Ateneo de Manila when I was still in grade school. Valente moved to Canada a few years ago and was working at the BC Cancer Agency when I met her last month. But her biggest news was that she had gotten married only recently. Almodovar, meanwhile, migrated almost two decades ago and is now with a medical library affiliated with the University of British Columbia.

Valente was the one who allowed me to borrow books from the collection of bestsellers reserved for the faculty. She doesn't remember doing that for me, but I did. And the positive experience contributed to the generally positive image of librarians I had even before I became a librarian myself. The opposite is true, too, I suppose. When librarians—perhaps without realizing it—"terrorize" students, they not only perpetuate negative stereotypes about librarians, but also push students away from the library.

Almodovar was the moderator of the Rizal Book Club during one of the years when I was a member. She said that we students probably knew she was very nervous because she was still new then. But she seemed surprised when I told her that I didn't remember her that way at all. Tip to new librarians: Students won't consciously know you're nervous unless you give them reason to suspect that you are. So the image we project—of our profession and ourselves—is really up to us.

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