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Five Years of Filipino Librarian

From "Mabuhay!," 18 February 2005:

This blog is for all Filipino librarians--whether working in the Philippines or elsewhere.

I am not really a blogger but I thought of setting up this blog as a way of establishing a presence for Filipino librarians on the Internet.

This blog will not be about me. Initially, I see it as a means to share information that I think will benefit Filipino librarians. And once I gain enough blogging experience, maybe we (yes, you and I) can think of other things that we can do with this blog.

Finally, just to make things clear, I do not claim to be the Filipino Librarian.
That was my first post as a blogger. I have written about this post many times (see Six Months, One Year, Two Years, Three Years, and Four Years), so take a look at those posts if you'd like to read about my thoughts on what this blog has accomplished since that first post. For this anniversary, I'd like to reflect on how my profession has changed in the last five years in the context of my own posts. Thus, I have selected a few posts—and more than just a few series of posts—that reveal my own interests and even biases:
"Librarians as Leaders" was one of my very first serious posts on the state of libraries in the Philippines—and it wasn't even written specifically for this blog! Since then, I've written so much more about the topic that it now has its own label: "Leadership."

"Sex in the Library" grew out of a discussion I had with another librarian on how and why it's important to market libraries, and not just wait for people to accidentally wander into the library. And no, it's not about sex, but the post kept getting so many hits, I eventually blogged about other sex-related stuff, too, and labeled them—what else?—"Sex" =)

"Licensed Librarians" was the fourth post on this blog partly because I wanted to emphasize that Filipino librarians are also required to pass board exams. Since then I've shared tips about passing the board exam, as well as annual results, but I'd like to think that people have been paying attention to my posts about who can take the exam (1 2 3 4 5), trends in the passing rate and, most recently, "The Best and the Worst LIS Schools." Label: "Licensed Librarians."

I'd also like to think that my tribute to the "Outstanding Librarians of the Year" has helped the profession. But I still wonder why the identities of these awardees were not known to more people before I blogged about them. To see who they are, check out "Librarians: Awardees."

And then there's the label "Talumpati," which is where you can find the most viewed and commented posts on this blog. Like some of my other posts, I started reproducing talumpati (speeches) because I noticed that one post that had the word "talumpati" kept getting a lot of hits. The same is true of the label "Buwan ng Wika" (Language Month). Sometimes I wonder if I've helped more students with their homework than the librarians who were my initial target readers.

"Filipiniana Online," my seventh post ever, was no accident. I can only hope that I've helped more than just students or librarians find these posts about websites that are not always easy to find. Label: "Filipiniana Online."
After five years of blogging about my profession, I am not entirely sure that there is really much that has changed. It seems to me that there is more that can be done in terms of leadership training, marketing libraries and promoting the profession. But frankly, if it's not obvious yet from the way my posts on this blog have dwindled over the past years, I'm getting a little tired of pushing things that I'm not really sure anyone else cares about. So thanks for visiting on my blog's fifth anniversary—and reading all the way to the end—but to be perfectly honest, I don't know if there's going to be a sixth anniversary. Ciao!


The Best and the Worst LIS Schools, 2007-2009

There are many ways of determining the "best" and the "worst." For this unofficial ranking, the best and worst library and information science (LIS) schools in the Philippines may be identified using the aggregate passing rates for each school whose graduates took the Librarians' Licensure Examination for the first time in 2007, 2008 and 2009, the only years for which detailed results per school are available. Only schools with examinees for all three years are included in the tables below. The schools are divided into three groups: those with 31 or more examinees, those with 11 to 30, and those with 10 or less.

LLE 2007-2009: Best & Worst LIS Schools

Note that the schools have been divided into groups arbitrarily, and that no school has actually been designated as "best" or "worst." This will be left to the reader to judge. The following observations, however, are offered as a way of demonstrating the need to divide the schools into groups—and its drawbacks—and the ways in which the tables may be used:

  • Only two schools had more than 100 examinees: UP with 129, and PUP with 123. The former's passing rate is 95 percent, while the latter's is 45 percent.
  • National Teacher's College, with 32 examinees, and Mindanao State University, with 30, are not in the same group, but one has a 6 percent passing rate, while the other's is 73 percent.
  • All of Saint Louis University's 12 examinees passed. In contrast, not one of the 17 graduates from University of Northern Philippines-Vigan made it.
  • Six schools were represented from 2007-2009, but all their examinees were repeaters, and that's why their names are on the list but no data is provided.
Why am I doing this? There is very little information available to students regarding the quality of LIS schools, and it is my hope that this effort of mine can provoke more detailed studies. Plus, if even one prospective LIS student looks at these tables and decides to go to one school, instead of another, then the time I've spent on this would have been worth it.

The data used for this post came from the following files: 2007, 2008 and 2009. Below is an alphabetical list of all the schools, with passing rates for first timers, repeaters and overall performance:Librarians' Licensure Exam 2007-2009


Unlicensed Librarians and R.A. 9246

A discussion on the violation of certain provisions of Republic Act No. 9246 (pdf; R.A. 9246), specifically the continued employment of unlicensed librarians in the Philippines, is now on its third week at the Filipino Librarians Googlegroup (1 2 3 4). Some have suggested that there are certain situations where violating the law is justified, but the appointment of non-librarians to head a library, despite the presence of qualified, licensed librarians, is indefensible. And then there are the unlicensed librarians who have been "OICs," supposedly a temporary designation, for almost two decades.

It is not clear, however, whether these emails are being read by those can do something about the concerns raised. But it is also important to remember that it is not just somebody else's responsibility to make sure the law is followed; it is also our responsibility. Why do I say this? Zarah Gagatiga has already pointed out that, "The librarian MUST have a license. The employer MUST hire a licensed librarian." But what if they DON'T? Do we just wait for the powers-that-be to put things right? Below are the relevant sections of R.A. 9246 and my comments, followed by suggestions on what licensed librarians can do to uphold the law:

SECTION 26. Illegal Practice of Librarianship. – A person who does not have a valid Certificate of Registration and Professional Identification Card or a temporary/ special permit from the Commission shall not practice or offer to practice librarianship in the Philippines or assume any position, which involve performing the function of a librarian as provided under Section 5 of this Act.
The "person" referred to in Section 26 is, in essence, someone who is working as a librarian illegally. Note, too, that there are no exceptions granted for certain kinds of librarians (e.g., special librarians). Everyone working as a librarian in the Philippines is covered by this law. The only exceptions, I suppose, are those whose employers are not covered by Philippine laws, like some international agencies.
SECTION 31. Employment of Librarians. – Only qualified and licensed librarians shall be employed as librarians in all government libraries. Local government units shall be given a period of three (3) years from the approval of this Act to comply with this provision.
The emphasis in Section 31 on government libraries does not imply that the law applies only to librarians working for the government. All this is means is that the government, as the single, largest employer of librarians, was singled out for special attention.
SECTION 32. Penal Provisions. – Any person who practices or offers to practice any function of a librarian as provided for under Section 5 of this Act who is not registered and has not been issued by the Commission a Certificate of Registration and Professional Identification Card, or a temporary license/permit or who violates any of the provisions of this Act, its Implementing Rules and Regulations, shall, upon conviction, be penalized by a fine of not less than Thirty thousand pesos (P30,000.00) nor more than One hundred thousand pesos (P100,000.00), or imprisonment of not less than one (1) month nor more than three (3) years at the discretion of the court.
The most important phrase here is, to me, "upon conviction." Thus, a case has to be filed against the librarian. But I do wonder why the employer goes unpunished. Shouldn't the employer be liable as well?

There are, of course, certain realities that must be acknowledged, such as the fact that no one is really enforcing the law. Academic and school librarians are in a better position because accrediting agencies mark down universities and schools for non-compliance with the law, but all other kinds of libraries, including the public libraries funded by local governments, can ignore R.A. 9246 if they so desire. Have cases been filed against unlicensed librarians? Have any been convicted? If so, please let me know.

The following are my suggestions for those who wish to see R.A. 9246 implemented properly:
  1. Verify whether someone working as a librarian is licensed or unlicensed. The Board for Librarians, the National Library, the Civil Service Commission, and the Philippine Librarians Association are supposed to have "up-to-date, complete and properly organized" lists of all licensed librarians in the Philippines.
  2. Write a letter to the person, with copies to the person's employer, the Board for Librarians and the Philippine Librarians Association (and, if applicable, the National Library and/or the Civil Service Commission), indicating all the pertinent details and exactly how the provisions of R.A. 9246 have been violated, pointing out that the person's continued employment is punishable by law. Make sure you keep copies of all correspondence, and ask recipients to sign for any letters you give them.
  3. If your letters are ignored or you are discriminated against or fired (because the person was your boss, for instance), file a case against the person at all appropriate agencies.
  4. If filing a case, or even writing letters to the person or agencies concerned, is not an option, send letters to local and national newspapers laying out how the law is being violated. While this may be done anonymously, it is perhaps best that you identify yourself.
All these are, of course, easier said than done. But all we really need is one, high-profile case, preferably involving a well-known employer, that can then be used to show others who are violating the law that librarians are serious about policing their ranks.


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