Librarians correct unlicensed head of National Library on claim library science not taught in provinces

Rosette Adel - Philstar.com

MANILA, Philippines — An official of Professional Regulatory Board for Librarians pointed out Wednesday that there are more than 70 library schools nationwide after the head of the National Library of the Philippines wrongly claimed librarianship courses are not offered outside Metro Manila.

The head of the National Library is not a licensed librarian.

“[T]here are more than 70 library schools in the country, and increasing because BLIS (Bachelor of Library and Information Science)  and MLIS (Master of Library and Information Science) are priority programs of CHED (Commission on Higher Education) and as such provides scholarships to deserving students,” said Lourdes David, member of the PRC Board for Librarians, in a statement posted on Facebook.

Appointment of non-librarians

During a virtual meeting with the House Committee on Basic Education and Culture, NLP Director IV Cesar Gilbert Adriano lobbied for the creation of public libraries in every local government unit.

Rep. Evelina Escudero (Sorsogon, 1st District) then discussed the proposal and said that one of the challenges in this suggestion is the lack of licensed librarians in the country.

Of 1,024 applicants, 565 passed the latest Librarian Licensure Examination in September 2019.

“I don’t think we have enough librarians on hand. There are few colleges or universities offering Library Science course,” Escudero said during the meeting, citing that Bicol does not have an academic institution for aspiring librarians.

Adriano concurred with this and claimed that there are no schools in the provinces offering LIS courses.

He said the lack of librarians is also among the concerns of licensed librarians who wrote to him.

“I don't know how to bring this especially now since those in the province have no course offering librarianship there,” the NLP director said in a mix of English and Filipino.

To address this concern, Adriano, not a licensed librarian, suggested that teachers should be added to the list of people qualified to head public libraries or reading centers.

He said that these teachers need not be licensed librarians.

Adriano’s remarks did not sit well with some registered librarians.

“I can overlook the erroneous formulation — that colleges and universities, not courses, offer degrees on Library and Information Science — but I think it’s unforgivable that the director of the National Library of the Philippines has no idea that there are LIS degree-granting institutions in the provinces,” Vernon Totanes, director of the Ateneo de Manila University's Rizal Library, wrote in a Facebook post.

He pointed out that there have been board topnotchers from library schools in the provinces.

Totanes likewise questioned Adriano for planning to hire non-librarians to run public libraries.

“He still seems to be unaware that there is a law that says ‘Only qualified and licensed librarians shall be employed as librarians in all government libraries,’” he said.

David, in her statement, also cited sections of Republic Act 9246, or "The Philippine Librarianship Act of 2003", that requires government librarians to have licenses.

The three sections of the law stating that only licensed librarians may be hired as librarians include Section 26 or Illegal Practice of Librarianship,  Section 31,  Employment of Librarians and Section 32, or the penal provision for practicing without a license.

David said that she is already seeking a meeting with Rep. Escudero to discuss these matters.

“In addition, the BFL would like to remind you of the following sections of RA 9246 and is seeking your assistance in informing it about individuals employed as librarians but are not registered with the PRC. However, those who passed the civil service examination given prior to RA 6966 may continue to practice as librarians even though they do not have the PRC license,” David said.

In a phone interview with Philstar.com, David said that the Philippine Librarians Association Inc. is also working on its position paper on the matter.

National Library's non-librarian head

In January 2018, Totanes filed a complaint before the Office of the Ombudsman questioning the appointment of Adriano to the highest post at the NLP.

Totanes accused President Rodrigo Duterte of violating the Philippine Librarianship Act of 2003 when he appointed Adriano.

In March of the same year, Gary Alejano — then a representative of the Magdalo party-list — also filed House Resolution No. 1758 seeking to rectify Adriano's appointment.

Adriano was appointed on March 17, 2017 and was sworn into office on April 6, 2017.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque then said the Palace will look into the appointment while Adriano said that he will answer the complaint at the proper venue.

Roque in January 2018 said that the Palace "will look into it even if there are remedies for it, including quo warranto."

A quo warranto petition is a legal proceeding against a "person who usurps, intrudes into, or unlawfully holds or exercises a public office, position or franchise" and was used to remove Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno later that year.

Asked for an update on the case, Totanes told Philstar.com that there has been none since.

Alejano, in his resolution, cited that the Civil Service Commission requires a master’s degree, librarian’s license, 120 hours of managerial training in the last five years and at least five years of supervisory experience for the post.

New libraries, reading centers

Under Adriano’s watch, the NLP was granted 9001:2015 certification for Quality Management System on December 26, 2018.

This certification is valid until December 25, 2021.

Adriano reported this accomplishment during the virtual meeting with the House panel last Monday.

He said that in 2019, the NLP monitored 112 public libraries and barangay reading centers nationwide.

Adriano said they focused on Mindanao, where he said many are not aware of of the NLP’s existence.

"The mayor of municipality of Talayan in Maguindanao [said] it’s the first time that they heard that there is a National Library," he said.

The NLP director vowed to provide initial book allocations to 38  municipal libraries and barangay reading centers that applied to be established as public libraries.

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