Thursday, April 16, 2009

A Step to a DReAM of Mainstreaming South Cotabato's Public Libraries

Monday, the 20th of April 2009, I fly to Hanoi, Vietnam. I take with me an advocacy to mainstream public libraries shared by a number of fellow Southern Mindanao librarians. In many ways, I am proud to take part of Mindanao with me, on a journey for this cause. I am aware that the steps I am taking, or I can possibly take are small, but they are headed to a definite and clear direction.

The past two days, in a last minute attempt to arm myself with more inspiration and motivation to help push this advocacy further, I, along with my husband, a community development worker who has become a staunch co-advocate, went public library hopping in the City Library of Koronadal, and the Municipal Library of Tupi, South Cotabato. I shall put on hold what I have seen and reserve my comments on the two libraries I visited pending further interviews with their staff. Meanwhile, I guess I have succeeded at meeting my objectives. And so I fly out of the country more inspired to present a case for a public library in South Cotabato, and more determined to dream bigger for the other public libraries of this province.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

NDMU Graduates Second to the Last Batch of Library Science Majors

The Notre Dame of Marbel University (NDMU) in the City of Koronadal, South Cotabato graduated its second to the last batch of Library Science (LS) majors on 22 March 2009.

Next year, it will graduate its last batch, unless the program is swarmed by more takers and management decides to shift gear and keep the program from closing. They say that the closing of the LS program is only temporary but it is a necessary option now because it is costly to run and maintain a program with very few takers. They say there was never an academic year in the past five years at least, that enrollment went past ten students. In essence, it is the numbers that will either overturn or seal the fate of this program.

Numbers do not at all surprise me. I remember there were just two of us in my own batch who were enrolled in the LS program at the University of the Philippines Institute of Library Science (UP ILS). I have witnessed how the then ILS community struggled to hold on, until persistence, patience and sheer faith in the profession paid off. The ILS, now School of Library and Information Studies (SLIS), is gearing up for more programs and a new building. I credit this wonderful achievement to the SLIS community, then and now, for keeping the program off the death zone.

I wonder if the same can be said of NDMU before the last batch exits next year. I'd like to believe so. I know of former NDMU colleagues and students who are disheartened by what has happened. They have a reason to feel that way. NDMU is the first ever institution in the SOCSKSARGEN area which offered Library Science back in the early 90s; and now one of only two institutions offering LS, the other one being the Notre Dame of Dadiangas University in General Santos City which offered LS in the early 2000. Most of the librarians of different institutions in and out of the SOCSKSARGEN area were NDMU graduates. I believe that together, they have a voice, but this voice should be motivated by a common objective to influence policy and convince the NDMU management to change its mind.

I am keeping positive that NDMU will still see more LS graduates in the future. So much can still be done in a year, collectively. Perhaps it can take after what the UP ILS community did to keep LS from being added to the statistics of "dead" programs. And with the same formula of patience, persistence, and sheer faith in the profession, the NDMU LS community can probably still resuscitate the program, perhaps maybe reinvent it like what ILS did to become SLIS.

At any rate, I am glad I was once part of the lives of the batch that just graduated. We will see more of each other in the field. Meanwhile, I hope to see more students choosing to become librarians.