interview with a hopeless, clueless librarian

One day I got lost in Metro Manila jungle and found myself walking towards Pasay City Municipal Hall, asking where the public library is–instead of how to get to Buendia terminals.

Mr. guard said “third floor” so obedient little me went up, up, up and round, round, round the third floor, which deserves to be hidden indeed from the public eye. Dark, unwelcoming corridors greeted me. I almost expected gangsta boys smoking pot or vampires sucking prey at every corner, but thank god there were only petiks roundabout 1pm.

When at last I found the room, I was shocked. Or perhaps insulted, for being led to such a debased room of knowledge they call “library”.

Books are in a sorry state. No system of classification is visible. Card catalogue looks locked. Library employees chat out loud. Guests talk as if they’re in the canteen. Food sellers peddle their goods every now and then. Labels are written thru pentel pen on scratch papers taped on shelves.

I went around taking pictures and surverying materials. Their books seem to be hand-me-down tattered properties from middleclass families, and much of them are either obsolete or pilfered. Of course I was glad to find a collection of Palanca anthologies, but above them are good for nothing western encyclopedias no longer cited, no longer collected–the type that would describe the Philippines as a tropical paradise full of monkeys.

I was trying to justify this cruelty and assault on the Filipinos’ hope for an educated future, till I found a devirginized book; its sanctity was robbed: effaced cover, torn title page and publication page, baked fragile pages, handwritten title (or was that the topic of the book?). I opened it and found gems inside, oh yes, this could could be in the reading list of our Folk Literature class.

When I was about to leave (enough! enough!), I decided to pass by the librarian’s tiny room.

“May I ask a few questions about this library, ma’am?” I said after introducing myself as a scholar from UP.

The librarian didn’t seem pleased at all since her conversation with a woman was interrupted, so she asked a dozen questions before she realized I am one heck of a serious scholar concerned about libraries. The woman she’s talking to stood and left. I stood still for the rest of my interview which lasted for an hour.

She had the following confession:

1. All her 20 plus staff don’t give a damn about the library . They seem less concerned about organizing and doing inventory than when the next pay is going to be.

2. They do get book donations such as old textbooks but she doesn’t know where to start in putting order to that messy pile.

3. She cannot give orders to the employees since they stop doing assigned tasks anyway.

4. The library has become a marketplace, not of ideas, but of ulam and turon.

5. They have budget for books, internet connection, and other expenses, but somewhere along the bureaucratic way, papers for purchasing are halted, if not lost.

6. She’s ashamed of this public library that she doesn’t want librarians from other public libraries visiting nor conducting meetings there.

7. She has submitted to the fact that the best libraries in Metro Manila are those in QC, Pasig, Manila, and Mandaluyong, and that Pasig has no chance at all in winning the best-public-library title, despite another fact that the National Library assists all municipal and city libraries especially in Manila.

8. Some books are kept in her room to avoid further damage–unfortunately, away from careful and sincere researchers as well.

9. People do not know how to use the card catalogue so they do not recommend using it (so to do away with the arduous task of organizing cards in disarray).

10. Students can easily research through the Internet nowadays anyway. Or, there’s Philippine e-lib anyway. Or, other institutions have better libraries anyway.

So I left the room and the building and the city asking, “so why put up that public library anyway?”

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neilbantoc
neilbantoc
12 years ago

hahaha.. yeah, i think i have an idea how to use the card catalogue but i don’t fully understand everything written on that card

riko
12 years ago

was disappointed with your experience in the pasay library. my thinking, these are one of the reasons why supports from the community stakeholders is very hard. i hope public librarians out there will learn a lesson from this.

JR Carrillo
JR Carrillo
12 years ago

that librarian is now famous!hehehe…..pitiful lib…vote ai for the next librarian in Pasay…hehehe…joke lang..XD

aimac
12 years ago

riko,
you wouldnt imagine how drained i was that day–and dejected too after the conversation.

and jr,
id say ‘infamous’. sayang, my passion is not on library science. πŸ˜›

iandycel
iandycel
12 years ago

waaaaaa!! what a library! ^^
grabe namn. lalo na kung hindi pala ipapagamit ung ibang libro dahil ayaw lang masira, hindi naman tama yun. pano naman ung mga nagreresearch?

tapos ung banat nya sa card catalogue, dapat pinapagamit din yun kasi mas kumpleto un para sa akin tska para di naman lumaking “tamad” yung mga students or researchers.

kung may pondo pala at may tauhan, dpat i-full force nila ang pagtatrabaho at paggamit sa resources kasi sayang naman. ^^

michael
michael
12 years ago

parang hopeless n ung lib n yun.
itsura pa lang ng book na nasa pic.. di dapat ganun.. para lang books na ipinapahiram sa mga public schools na pinagtiyatiyagaan ng mga estudyante.. lalo na sigurong tatamarin ang mga nandun na mag research..
tapos panu ka pa makapagconcentrate sa pagresearch kung ganun ka ingay..wrong din ung reason ng librarian na hindi nnmn daw na masyadong kailangan ung lib kasi may internet na… malaki kayang tulong ang library. d rin dapat nagpapapsok ng mga vendors.. so para skin..
ayoko pumsok sa lib na yan.

patti
patti
12 years ago

Wow…that was pathetic, although I’m not really surprised anymore. This is the Philippines. What they have good in the other countries…well, you get the idea here in the PI. I remembered that HBO movie, “Freedom Writers”. The library is a place technically shut off from the rest of the school because the students —composed of gangsters and “wastrels”— have no interest in books and are only believed to destroy the precious contents of the bookshelves. Everybody needs a damn change! From the bureaucrats in position who are (mis)handling the funds to the students supposed to be benefiting from the facilities… Read more »

aimac
12 years ago

I need to check out that film. interesting. Yes, this IS the Philippines, and some Filipinos are simply comfortable with anything squalid. But since I dont want to over generalize, I’ll definitely schedule visits to other public libraries here in Manila, to find hope. πŸ˜‰ Boy, love to hear someone still positive about Change. πŸ™‚ BTW The librarian somehow agreed with me in the end that there are so many things the library could provide that the Internet cannot. Of course, as a librarian she still believes in them, libraries. In fact I’d salute her for the vision (and plans… Read more »

michael
michael
12 years ago

kung ikukumpara dun sa isang article tungkol sa ayala library..kabaligtaran to nun eh.. hummpxs.. kung ang Pasay Municipal hall library ay magiging katulad lng ng ayala library.. cguro gugustuhin q pang punthan at ma-experience ang service ng lib n yn..

lyka
lyka
12 years ago

mmm…ito na po ba yung isa sa mga sinasabi ninyong re-semanticization nung nagclass tayo na may nagwewelga s hum steps? (tingin ko po magulo yung tanong ko, pero maiintindihan nyo po aq, im sure, haha) πŸ˜›

aimac
12 years ago

oh my god, you got me there, lyka. haha
yeah, i think so, re-semanticization (re: activists employing a new set of vocabulary along with the sophistication of technology.) πŸ˜€

nahdiya
nahdiya
12 years ago

This reminds me of different public school libraries. Her pathetic claims, that are undoubtedly true, just mean that people will have lesser interest in using the library. πŸ™

JRS
JRS
12 years ago

So I left the room and the building and the city asking,

jaedie
jaedie
12 years ago

sayang mga libraries..=/..i really don’t have any idea how to use a card catalogue before i went to college..my high school library was in “a no card catalogue” policy. or so i thought because i haven’t seen any ever since i started entering “our” high school library. i think libraries are one of the reasons why students resort to internet instead of libraries. E kasi naman po nung high school, maghahanap kami ng answers sa mga homeworks sa lib pero wala namang mahanap. yung mga books about the subject eh hindi nakaorganize at napakahirap hanapin ung tipong ubos na ung… Read more »

carlos
carlos
12 years ago

your experience in that library made me sad. πŸ™
the present situation of the pasay public library, for me, only shows that people really are losing their interests in reading books, specially now that information can be accessed easily through the internet.

marjorie
marjorie
12 years ago

the library in Pasay is a lot worse than our own lib..
Mas okey ng pagpawisan than to see turon and other food items being sold πŸ˜€

It’s really sad to know such thing exists especially if the place is a sanctuary of knowledge. Sayang un hidden infos na magagamit pa sana ng maraming students. I hope magkaroon ng action.. πŸ™

Camille Larios
Camille Larios
12 years ago

public library, hmm…

I think, its like a comfort room that reflects the people

living at the house. It’s hidden yet should be taken care of.

what an analogy! i don’t mean that the library ought to look

like a CR… but seriously, I think, if the municipality

cannot take care of a small room like that and all those books,

how then can it take care of the whole of Pasay?

it’s more than the books that are wasted but the

knowledge that we (or their townspeople) should have gained by reading them.

angelosumalde
angelosumalde
12 years ago

disappointing naman, man… that place is a dump compared to the ayala library… after reading this, i am thankful that we have a respectable library in LB…

anna
anna
12 years ago

I don’t like her statement on the internet. That is exactly why people become lazy. And besides, not all sites on the internet are reliable unlike books. I can’t believe there are actually people inside there selling food. And guests and librarians talking out loud makes it a very unappealing place for studying and researching. Your conversation with the librarian was frustrating…It reminds me of your story in class when the book you wanted was given to someone else…I would have been pissed-off if i was there… After reading this article, i felt sorry for this library. I hope that… Read more »

Jennifer L. Tolentino
Jennifer L. Tolentino
12 years ago

I don’t think that’s a library. That’s only a simple room na may nakapaskil na “LIBRARY” sa pinto nito. Ginawa lang nila yun para masabi na “One of our projects is a public library” (as a structure). Parang iyong sa books, itinatago nila dahil ayaw nilang masira. Kelan nila iyon ilalabas? Kapag may mga bigating bisita from other municipality?
About the librarian, if she is really concerned with the library, she must do something.

neilbantoc
neilbantoc
12 years ago

@angelosumalde

mali, “nananaman” dapat.. lol

maricris
maricris
12 years ago

grbeh nman ung lib na un ma’am..
sayang nman un kung gagawing tmbayan lang din ng walang paki-alam sa libraries.
napaka wa-kwents..
unga!
tma si michael,..kbaligtaran un nung ayala lib..
kawawa nman ung lib na un..

Elacyte
12 years ago

sayang naman. sana matauhan na ‘yung mga staff d’un. ayusin man lang ‘yung mga libro. ‘yung ibang mga librarian, concerned talaga sa mga libro. nagagalit kapag nasira ‘yung librong hiniram. pinagmumulta pa. andaming sayang sa ginagawang kapabayaan n’ung mga staff d’un. sana maisip nila kung ilang puno ang pinutol para sa papel na ginamit sa libro, ang mga tintang pinanglimbag, mga hirap at pagod ng author, at ang kinabukasang dapat sana’y unti-unting mapapasakamay ng mga kabataan na gagamit ng mga libro. hay. pero hindi pa huli ang lahat. year 2009 na. magbago na! hehehe. πŸ˜€

Jerliemhay
Jerliemhay
12 years ago

mukhang masaya dun mag ingay!! haha… well, puedeng ndi ngiisa ang lib n un d2 Pilipinas!! my mga kapatid p un!!! hahah…
it just shows that some Filipinos are not that interested in libraries…and even knowledge, i guess…

netnet
netnet
12 years ago

haaaayyy…
pambihirang library…kalunus-lunos..
panu kaya natatagalan nung mga tao na mag-aral dun???
sana naman kahit papano ginawan ng paraan ang pagsasaayos dun kasi may pondo naman pala…
sayang lang kung hindi ito mapapakinabangan..:(

Paolo
Paolo
12 years ago

Mukhang di na mag-iimprove yang library na yan, kasi mismong yung mga employees dito ay walang pakialam sa library nila… Posible lang siguro kung papalitan ang mga employees nito ng mga responsable at masisipag na employees…

Timothy
Timothy
12 years ago

for me, it just shows that the people in that area are not aware of their library’s state thus not acting upon the problem..

i’m lucky i’m here in elbi.. library here is still good..

hazel
hazel
12 years ago

nakakalungkot naman….
I can’t believe that this is really happening…
as if people don’t value books anymore…
gawin ba namang market place ang library… πŸ™

charles...
charles...
12 years ago

poor little “library”…
sana mas pagtuunan ng pansin ng mga local government ang isa sa mga facilities tulad ng public library, which is supposed to be used by many, for whatever purposes…. πŸ™

aimac
12 years ago

hey, people, check out comment#3 (riko) to brighten up your day and his site:
http://www.nagalibrarian.blogspot.com

another site to make your day:

http://filipinolibrarian.blogspot.com

anne
anne
12 years ago

nakakalungkot makakita o makarinig ng ganung kalagayan para sa isa sa mahahalagang institusyon sa isang lugar o bansa. magulo at maingay : ang bubuod sa estado ng Pasay Library.. πŸ™ tsk. sa halip po kasi na mabilis ang proseso ng pagkalap ng karunungan (isa sa maitutulong ng mga silid-aklatan) eh, tila mas bumabagal pa at worst, eh tila mawawalan pa ng gana matuto sa ganung uri ng environment ( na hindi nman appropriate para sa isang library.) ung tungkol po sa paggamit ng internet para sa mga homeworks: hindi nman po maidedeny yun dahil halos malaking porsyento ng mga mag-aaral… Read more »

aimac
12 years ago

Oh my goodness! πŸ˜€ That post perfectly fits into this picture. πŸ™‚ Curious, we end with almost the same sad note.

ronnie
ronnie
12 years ago

u should make an organization! hahaha πŸ˜€

melody m.
melody m.
12 years ago

ibang iba po ung library na to dun s isa nyong pnunthan..hehe!ang hrap mgbsa s gnyang place..

bugs bunnoynoyms
bugs bunnoynoyms
12 years ago

nakakalungkot naman

Claire Ann Camposano
Claire Ann Camposano
12 years ago

..,NyEkZ!., parang binaboy ung lyb.,
pinasara n lang sana., harhar..=(

Jason
Jason
12 years ago

sayang naman… dapat ayusin nila yung library para marami makagamit…

joannaru2
joannaru2
12 years ago

tama! di po yang matatawag na library…
yung mga newest references tinatago?
para san pa yun?
ikocollect inya for fututre purposes?
nakakalungkot nman po yan…
sana wag maging ganan d2 sa elbi…
buti na lang polite and industrious ang mga kuyas and ates dito.

fmae
fmae
12 years ago

ow.hopeless nga tlga.
πŸ™
They really are in a sorry state.

venieceF
venieceF
12 years ago

it should not be called a “library” anymore..a library is where books are taken care of and valued like treasures. if I were the librarian, I’d kick those “employees” out and then hire worthy people.
I hope someone would knock the sense out of the librarian to see what she can do..
I remember when I’m still a grade schooler, we have a library in our school. To keep it silent and clean always, the principal never let anyone use it. They only opened it when someone from the government visited the school.
tsk tsk..

Alyssa
Alyssa
12 years ago

very disappointing ang itsura nung library.. i bet our library in high school is a better sight to look at than that library. the first time i saw the pic inside the library i thought there was a meeting going on and the place was not really a library. i like going to libraries like in my former high school. being a librarian isn’t just a sideline job. may course talaga na dapat kunin, so why study that course kung wala ka naman palang will na ipagbuti ang job na makukuha mo at pagandahin ang lib..tsk! tsk! tsk!

Manilyn
Manilyn
12 years ago

So sad!!!that poor library shows the true situation in the Philippines!!!matatawag pb un library o kaya tawagin n lng tambayan!

nigthmaire
nigthmaire
12 years ago

how hopeless nga namn nun librarian…..she is a living hero…hahaha..but it’s sad to think that the place that we know to be the source of knowledge become a trash because of such lack od discipline…

mehc. :)
mehc. :)
12 years ago

ow. hopeless library. felt sad while reading this post. government can help to make this wasted library into a useful one. or so i think. πŸ™

eng2student
eng2student
12 years ago

hahaha.. is it really a LIBRARY??

eng2 student
eng2 student
12 years ago

nakakatamad naman pumunta at mag aral sa lib na yan… hehe…

Otakore Literantadodist

That was a Kewl library.
^_^

Batang Librarian
Batang Librarian
11 years ago

I am a librarian… at naaawa ako sa librarian n yun …. sana u cans end me the photos and the name of this pipol… gusto ko kasi masali to sa aking research about the libraries in the Philippines….

aimac
11 years ago

Hello Batang Librarian! yeah, pitiful!Thats nice, research about our libraries! i want that. well, it’s in pasay, and i think you can check out the names of the staff online or in person. let me help if i can! I teach library research and I do appreciate research about libraries


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