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Thursday, July 19, 2007

"Libsci"? DUH!

Even in the University of the Philippines itself where the constituency are at least supposed-to-be-knowledgeable , the words "library science" usually merely raises inquiring brows, or are met with general disinterest. Given that, one can only expect sheer frustration when dealing with those who are not even part of the academe. In such situations, I usually can't help but wish that I have the power to just shut down all libraries and information systems that there are, especially the internet. Perhaps then, everyone would start paying attention and give the area as well as the professions that it encompasses, the respect and attention that it so rightfully deserves.

Ironic that in this information-driven age, most people still are quite ignorant as to the driving force behind all the innovations and breakthroughs that they are enjoying today. Really now, can anyone ever imagine a world without information professionals? The people that practices the science is what basically spells the difference between meaningless data and meaningful information.

More than any other issue affecting library science and information studies particularly in the Philippines (even more than that BIG ONE regarding the pitiful state of our National Archives), the one about perception is what's bothering me most. I don't think that Miss Tapia's character in the 80's TV show Iskul Bukol is the only thing to blame for the public's gaping ignorance about what library and information studies, as well as professions, are all about. In the School of Library & Information Studies (formerly Institute of Library & Information Science) itself at the UP, there are students who are irked with the prospect of being called "librarians". What's wrong with being a librarian anyway? Without these noble, off-classroom teachers and the institutions that they look after, could most of us survive even secondary school?

My point is that more than anyone else, those of us who understand the great responsibility and privilege that is ours as products of this particular area of learning, should be the ones to blow our own trumpets. What recognition can we hope for if even amongst ourselves, we do not have the rightful pride in being the key to society's order and development? In the US and the rest of the world, being a librarian, an archivist, or a records manager is to wield great power and to be held in utmost esteem. Why can't we make this true of information professionals in our own country?

It is more than high time that the image of the boring (and bored), uptight, and shrill-voiced librarian is shattered. We know this more than anyone else; that History is in our hands. I call on all students and practitioners of the library and information field to show everyone just what THAT exactly means.
kaigachi is a conjugation of the Japanese term "kigaicha" or crazy. It roughly translates as "crazy about something."

"One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light but by making the darkness conscious." - C.Jung

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