The blog's Filipino Librarian of the Month is Melissa Odono Naval
, school librarian at Southville International School and Colleges. Known among peers and friends in Southville as Ms. Mel, she is a very colorful personality in the community and has earned the school's admiration and respect because of her dedication towards her work. She was second place in the recently concluded Search for Outstanding Librarian in the Consortium of the South.How did you become a school librarian?
Staying in the library as a custodian or a full-time librarian did not cross my mind more so becoming a licensed one.
Yes, I have not asked myself what made me stay in the library for more than 10 years. If I am into superstitions, I would say it is my good luck staying in the library but unfortunately, I strongly believe that it is really God's plan that he put me in the field of librarianship for a greater purpose.
Let me share with you my short story.
This happened when our librarian in my previous work resigned and there was no one to stay or take care of our library then. As tradition dictates, books were returned at the end of the academic year, clearing of teachers' accountabilities by the assigned librarian. Since no one would do that anymore, books returned were placed anywhere in the library. My heart felt bad seeing books scattered anywhere. Without any knowledge, nor skills, I volunteered to our principal to fix the returned books while teaching, monitoring and mentoring faculty in the department. Even during that time, there was really a scarcity of licensed librarian and not one has applied yet for the position.
Lack of knowledge or lack of skills did not stop me to help and serve. A great opportunity came when a PAASCU accreditor recommended that, at least, someone who has units in the field could man the library.
I embraced this new challenge and took units after finishing my Master's in Filipino. At that time I was already in paper writing. I saw the urgency and weighed the need for our school. In the journey of studying, I thirsted for more and little by little, I applied all the learning and skills from my professors but most especially from my classmates whom I shared the same plight. I have realized, am I enjoying every bit of work, every bit of challenge and empathised with my friends and acquaintances' stories in the library.
With passion, grit and determination, I was ready to move forward so I decided to take the board exam for librarians (which our batch was the last to take the exam as non-BLIS graduates). As I have mentioned, it was indeed a God's plan because I passed the board exams. I even pushed more for a bigger challenge and inspired by Sir Johnny Buenrostro, I enrolled in MLIS in Baliuag, Bulacan until I finally finished and graduated my MLIS in 2012.
In the year 2010, I have decided to leave my previous work. I applied for a teaching position in various schools but there was no vacancy in my field of expertise. So I decided to apply as a librarian and Southville International School & Colleges gave me the opportunity to truly experience the role of a librarian in different facets. I have been an academic librarian and presently a school librarian. Being a librarian is challenging, yet fulfilling and exciting.
2. What have you learned from years of experience working with students and teachers?
Working with students and teachers in the library have taught me the real meaning of service on a wider scope and with greater responsibilities. Customers are different and unique in so many ways. I have learned to tailor-fit the library services and activities on their needs and types. Working with students in the library gave me the opportunity to wear different hats: a teacher, a friend, a parent, a counsellor. Working with teachers/faculty have taught me to improve and work on my relationship with them, to provide for their teaching needs and to always be on my toes. To give in on their request without bending the library's policies and procedures but to meet them half-way. Working hand in hand with them made some of my work easy. I have gained partners in promoting everything about the library and on personal note, I have even won friends.
Working with Southville’s students and faculty have taught me to develop, hone and live the true value and meaning of 5Cs, Competence, Character, Collaboration, Creativity and Commitment to Achieve.
What is the greatest challenge school librarians face in this day and age?
Based from my experiences and conversations with colleagues, the greatest challenge of school librarians are budget related, manpower and support from management.
How can this challenge be overcome?
a. In order to get support from management, librarians must make a noise in the community to show and let everyone be aware that the library exist. Forward to them all seminar invites pertaining to administration for them to attend and be with other administrations so they could understand little things about the library. Involve them in all the activities.
b. If budget is really limited, work and coordinate with different publishing companies and initiate book fairs. Entice these publishing companies on different student-centered activities on major library celebrations. Launch a book drive donation from students, teachers or parents. Benchmark with other schools and coordinate for possible book donation.
c. For lack of manpower, librarians can coordinate with teachers or discipline head of the school and open the possibility of the library as a venue for students to do community service, SHS service learning and immersion.
Think of something we do not know about Melissa yet. How can this “hidden” self be a gift to PH LIS?
I am a passionate librarian and an event organizer. I think, if I will be given the chance to be one of the organizers of any organizations, I could apply the skills and training I had with Southville.
I always wanted to turn my weaknesses into strength. I am scared of deep water however, I am doing ways to conquer my fear of water by going to beaches and pools and learning to swim with my loved ones. Turning my weakness/fears into strength can be a self gift to the LIS profession because it helps people in unlocking their potential and it makes them a successful one in every aspect of their lives personally or professionally.
Others would see me as a happy individual, very jolly, likes to mingle and entertain everyone, with a strong will and determination. Others even perceive me with a strong personality. But behind this, like any other human being, I am also vulnerable. However this won't stop me from doing my passion to serve others, to inspire and encourage people around me especially colleagues in the field of teaching and of librarianship.
Despite many challenges as a librarian, we can all soar high amazingly and conquer our fears and weaknesses to be servants of God. Be a blessing to every all.
SCHEDULE OF TALKS AND WORKSHOPS for April and May 2018
April 19, 2018 - Storytelling Workshop and Panel Presentation at the 9th PILF in CCP. Registration is free. Visit the FB Page of the National Book Development Board for details.
April 29, 2018 - Writing Workshop: Weaving stories for kids and young readers.
Registration is Php 2,500. For details, send me a PM or an email at email@example.com.
Venue: Happy Grandma’s Cafe
Umbria Mall, Biñan Laguna
Time: 1 PM - 5 PM
May 19, 2018 - Imagine! Play! Wonder! A Creative and Fun Storytelling Workshop
Venue: Museo Pambata, Roxas Boulevard, Manila
Time: 9AM to 4PM
Read the e-poster for details.
This is a residual post from the blog entry last April 11, 2018, What Kind of Librarian Leader Are You? where I identified my takeaways from the panel on leadership and Filipino librarians today. The invited guests in the 39th Gabriel A. Bernardo Memorial Lecture were Dr. Vernon Totanes, Mr. Michael Pinto and Mrs. Fides Abad.
Of the three, it is Fides Abad’s presentation I enjoyed the most because one of her slides holds a truth that we, Filipino Librarians, have not spoken out loud amidst the #NationalNonLibrarian issue but a sentiment many of us feel.
And that truth is this: ONLY LICENSED LIBRARIANS ARE QUALIFIED TO WORK AS LIBRARIANS.
|Photo credit: Prof. Johann Frederick A. Cabbab's FB Post of a slide presentation of Fides Abad's presentation during UP SLIS' 39th Gabriel A. Bernardo Memorial Lecture. Theme: Library Leadership at the Crossroads.|
Of course, this has been said in social media and in TV interviews on the issue of the #NationalNonLibrarian, but the context in which Abad presented this truth, as I take it, is one that shows prejudice and exclusivity to another professional whom we, in the LIS Profession, have no personal knowledge of. Our colleagues from the National Library of the Philippines (NLP) remain to be as quiet as mice.
This silence speaks volumes.
A law was violated. We have so many questions. We need to hear answers. We deserve to get a response.
On the other hand, I am also thinking beyond this manmade law. It seems that the law and adherence to it has turned us into absolute thinkers. Has RA 9246 turned us to be exclusive, turf oriented and prideful professionals?
Insulted by the appointment of a non-librarian in the NLP, we fail to look at Director Adriano as a person too. A human being who has a set skill, though different from ours, that can contribute to the growth of the NLP in particular and LIS in the Philippines in general. In one conversation I had with librarian friends, I said, baka pwede ma-convince at ma-inspire si Director Adriano na mag Masters in LIS? After a long stretch of silence, my friends deep in thought, one replied, pano pa yun ma-inspire kumuha ng MLIS, binato at binatikos na sa social media at may nakaabang pang complaint sa Ombudsman?
Is it too difficult to stretch a kind hand to one who is different from you?
Ang yayabang natin, ano? E lahat naman tayo, tao lang.
In a time when the divide and conquer strategy is being applied left and right by the current powers that be, kindness, goodness, empathy and compassion are all too hard to come by.
Tooth for a tooth. Eye for an eye.
We will all go blind then.
Unable to see.
Disabling speech and open dialogue.
I wonder who among us, those outside of NLP, like the PLAI, the BFL and the rest of the library associations have talked to Director Adriano in person.
Last March 23, 2018, the University of the Philippines School of Library and Information Science (UP SLIS) hosted the 39th Gabriel A. Bernardo Memorial Lecture. There were three invited panelists who expanded and expounded on the theme, Library Leadership at the Crossroads. The respected licensed librarian panelists for the lecture were Dr. Vernon Totanes, Director of the Rizal Library; Mr. Michael Pinto, President of the Philippine Librarians Association; and Mrs. Fides Abad, licensed librarian, retired school librarian and administrator, and professional skills trainer. They were tasked to discuss leadership in the Library and Information Science (LIS) profession today, particularly looking at the issue of the appointment of Mr. Gilbert Adriano, a Human Resource manager from the Davao City Hall as the director of the National Library of the Philippines.
I was not there at the lecture in UP Diliman, but peers and colleagues in the UP SLIS posted photos, snippets, sound bites and a live video of the panelists' input on leadership. If you are following the issue of the #NationalNonLibrarian in social media, and you have seen and/or heard Totanes and Pinto during the lecture, both gentlemen were consistent on their stand on the issue though each has a different approach in dealing about it. I will not flesh this out because much has been said already. What we need to hear are more voices other than the ones we have heard over and over again.
The links and history of the #NationalNonLibrarian issue can be reviewed and revisited in Totanes' blog and the PLAI's Official Facebook Page. I encourage you to go back and reread, if you need a refresher. For this blog post, I am focusing on the leadership styles that I took away from the three panelists. More than the pressing issue at hand, the three library leaders have displayed their brand of leadership. For LIS professionals, this would make for an interesting research and study. Younger LIS professionals may find a mentor, a coach or a lodi (idol)
LIS professional to follow or emulate.1. From Dr. Totanes,
I realised how important communication skills can be in a position of leadership. Totanes knows how to use language and in great effects to media marketing and promotion. I have a friend who is a poet and philosopher tell me once, that a man who can wield language has the most power in this world. How true!
A leader knows what he is thinking about and is able to clearly and lucidly communicate this to his or her intended audience.
Totanes is also quick to action, decisive and approaches an issue in a let's-get-this-done-because-really-it's-as-simple-as-123. No beating around the bush. The agenda is laid down. Take it for what it is. No room for sentiment or emotions. Trabaho lang. Ang pikon at balat sibuyas, ay...sorry na lang!
A leader sticks to the issue and faces it head on.2. From Mr. Pinto,
I realised the value of listening and consultation in leadership. This recognition of working in teams, collaborating with different people and allowing each to lend a voice in the conversation are all hallmarks of a compassionate and creative leader. As President of PLAI, Pinto must really listen to his co-leaders. Pinto is not PLAI and PLAI is not Pinto. He knows what public service entails after making the shift from private institution to government agency.
A leader listens. A leader works with people. A leader does not think he is the only one fighting a cause or running a project all by himself.
Now I know where this man from Cagayan gets his charm.3. From Mrs. Abad,
I realised the relevance of taking things into perspectives not just one's own, but from others and factors that influence them too. The approach she used to analyse the issue on leadership as applied to the issue of the #NationalNonLibrarian is the Iceberg technique where patterns of behavior, socio-cultural trends and aspects are considered as well as mental models that play a role in decision making. I like this technique because it makes for a good start in clarifying biases and prejudices. Then, one can move on to a more informed process of filing a complaint and in the issuance of statements of concern.
A leader looks at the big picture. Always considering the systems, structures and politics that shape human behavior.
In the 21st century, much is expected from us, LIS professionals. There are events and occasions where, like Dr. Totanes, we need to be decisive. We need to master language and the nuances of communication. Our profession is people oriented, thus, we need to learn how to listen well like Mr. Pinto. The mere act of sincere listening is an act of leadership. And then, like Mrs. Abad, we need to first examine our motives and see how it fits in the greater scheme of things. Leaders reflect and discern on actions that can contribute to the greater good.
What leadership style or approach do you adhere or believe in? What kind of librarian leader are you?
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