Monday, June 6, 2016

2015 LLE Oath taking Speech

Licensure examination for Librarians 2015 topnotcher
Joint Oath-taking and Induction Ceremonies of New Librarians and New PLAI Members
Century Park Hotel, Manila, 27 May 2015

(Note: A big thanks to Mr. R. Dante O. Perez for the suggestions, references below. I enjoyed the oath-taking, I was nervous about speaking at first but halfway through it disappeared and I just felt like talking to the audience and the new librarians. Glad to see some classmates from the UP-SLIS regular review also in the oath-taking. I only talked to some of them already after the review classes were over! My classmates who passed were not able to attend. From CPU, only me, my mother, and our Director of Libraries were present.)

I am honored and humbled to speak before you today, new Librarians. Congratulations to all of us for this milestone. Looking back, I remember the days and nights of endless studying and reviewing, and there came a point that I just wanted the exam to be over. I’m sure it was difficult, the two days of the board exams where our will, our minds, and our knowledge were truly tested. Even after the exams, there was no relief because of the anxiety of waiting for the results. Then, there was the tension on the day of April 28, where we will finally find out if we survived or not - and what joy and relief it was, knowing we passed the test. And me, learning that I did not only pass, but my dream of topping the exam came true - words can never explain what I felt in that moment. The ‘burden’ of the board exam has disappeared, and all of the hardships we faced was worth it.

I’m sure that we owe this success not only to our own efforts but also to those who have helped us. I would like to begin this message with expressing thanks.

I thank my school, Central Philippine University, for the values and education you have taught in my four years of college. I am grateful for having inspiring teachers and mentors who have not only taught me valuable lessons in librarianship, but also through their support and encouragement I learned to love the profession.

I thank my family for being with me and supporting me throughout my years in school and during my review, especially to my mother who went all the way from Iloilo City to Manila for moral support during the exams. I am grateful also to my friends and classmates for believing in me.

I thank God, if not for his grace and the wisdom I asked for when I prayed, I would not be standing here. Actually, I never intended to be a librarian. I was led to this field by a series of chance events, but now, I realized that maybe it was all God’s way of telling me this is the right path to take. Maybe, like most of you who shifted from other courses or have taken LIS as a Master’s degree, I did not seek out librarianship, but librarianship found its way to me. I spent a semester trying to fit in Political Science. After many failing grades and a feeling that I was useless, I stopped going to school for a semester. Those were dark days, and I wasn’t even sure if I would ever step in a university again. But now I see that if I didn’t quit, I wouldn’t have found librarianship.

Then I decided to enrol in another university. Me and my brother searched the yellow pages of a PLDT phone book to look at school advertisements and the courses they were offering. No field looked interesting to me. Then I looked at all the disorganized books in our house, and that made me select Library and Information Science out of the blue because of the simple reason that it might give me an idea how to organize the chaos at home. Well, now I know LC and DDC but I still haven’t started organizing all our books. To make the long story short, I found something that I think is meant for me, that led me to like learning and school again, and led me here.

After finishing our library science degrees, we all know that it wasn’t a complete accomplishment until we have passed the licensure exams. It is the test we must survive before we can truly call ourselves professionals. Now, we are Librarians, as defined by RA 9246. But we all know that it doesn’t end here. We are not just LIS graduates now, but professionals. That word comes with heavy responsibility. The word professional means that we strive to have the highest standards in our ethics, in our work, and in our relations with colleagues and library users. We have our own Code of Ethics that we must know by heart and practice in our daily work. The Code says that we must adopt and live by the saying, “Constant and Never-ending improvement” - of the quality and standards of professional services. This is what we must remember, to always strive to improve our libraries and services.

Now, most people who have no idea what librarians do assume that we are now ‘irrelevant’ because of the computer age. But, I think we are needed now more than ever to pave the way through the increasing mass of information without meaning. Ever since the Sumerians collected clay tablets in the temples of Nineveh; ever since Callimachus organized the Alexandrian Library in Egypt; ever since the monks in the Dark Ages protected the world’s history in monasteries... we still perform the basic need of organizing information, of providing the right information, for the right users, at the right time. Technology is a tool, but librarians must continue to be good information providers.

I have a somewhat strange outlook towards the board exam that I haven’t shared with anyone but since it worked, I think I can say it now. The great mythologist Joseph Campbell introduced the concept of the ‘Hero’s Journey’, showing that stories and myths all over the world follow common themes and steps. Old and new stories have these themes of heroes defeating monsters, passing through difficult challenges yet surviving, transformed. These stories are not only patterns of myth but somehow applicable to our lives as well, and this exam represents a ‘threshold’ - a stage to pass, a challenge to overcome, and this oath-taking ceremony can be seen as a symbolic rite of passage. I read these lines from his book The Power of Myth and it influenced my state of mind throughout the review, of thinking about the exam in terms of myth: "Now the level of the dream of "Will I pass the exam?" - that is purely personal. But, on another level, the problem of passing an exam is not simply a personal problem. Everyone has to pass a threshold of some kind. That is an archetypal thing. So there is a basic mythological theme even though it is a personal dream."

The concept of the hero’s journey can be summarized as: a hero ventures from the common world to a strange one, facing trials and ordeals, and coming back after the victory with a boon or reward to his community. In a way, each of us had a unique path and journey in the board exam, and now that we have won, what is your gift to the world through librarianship? That is a question that only you can answer.

I end this message with something from Gabriel Bernardo, who we learned in our review as the ‘doyen’ of Filipino librarians. Before he died, he had this message for the Chinese Library Association in 1962, where he defined the professional librarian with three H’s: the hand, the head, and the heart. According to his words, “The true professional librarian must have all his being properly disciplined. The hand stands for technical skill; the head is the ‘well-ordered mind, the thinker who plans, organizes, and manages the use of material and human resources of the library'; and last, the heart, which for him is being humane, the ethical relations not only with the public or the users of the library but also to those above him, those equal to him, and those under him.
Again, congratulations and thank you.

References:
Campbell, J. (1988). The Power of Myth. New York: Doubleday.
Perez, R.D.O. (2004). Philippine Libraries and Librarianship, 1900-2000: A Historical Perspective.

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