Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Library & Information Professionals’ Competency

(Keynote address delivered by Marcial R. Batiancila*, President, PLAI-Southern Tagalog Region Librarians Council during the 2010 PLAI-STRLC Summer Conference in Palawan)

Fellow officers and members of PLAI-Southern Tagalog Librarians Council, fellow librarians, guests, and friends, good morning. Magandang umaga Pilipinas!

I feel much honored to be with all of you as we begin this three-day summer conference here in Puerto Princesa, Palawan. It has been a month that I kept on pondering on what I might discuss in this keynote address. Such dilemma, prompted me to consider some important or critical issues that affect the practice of our profession in this modern world.

In this keynote, I will try to address the following questions:

  1. What makes a competent library and information professional?
  2. What competencies do we need to succeed in this technology-driven environment?
  3. Do these competencies are enabling us to make our services receptive, effective and apt to the needs of our constituents in this ever changing Information Age?

In defining of what makes a competent library and information professionals, we must consider the definition provided by the standards for Philippine Librarianship. This definition will be based on the roles and functions librarians should be able to perform. Section 5 of RA 9246 strongly reiterated that librarianship shall deal with the performance of the librarian's functions, of which these competencies of the librarian include in-depth knowledge of print and electronic information resources, organization and management of information services, technical knowledge as well as professional expertise.

In addition, here are some of the competencies that we can consider as crucial to synergizing library and information services, viz: collection development skills, cataloging and classification, reader’s advisory skills, library operation skills, communication skills, information problem solving skills, knowledge of information sources, information technology, public relations skills, marketing skills, patron service skills, subject expertise, and knowledge of curricula.

More so, Richard J. Naylor (2001) had identified the advantages of developing and improving core competencies in libraries such as :

  1. Better human resource planning. Instead of trying to fit the person to the organization, work from the organization and ask, "What do we need? What would we like?"
  2. More effective training programs. Training programs designed to meet future needs are effective.
  3. A list of critical technological capabilities. Besides knowing which are our critical capabilities we also know which are not; resources can be spent wisely.
  4. An opportunity for a strength-weakening analysis. Answering questions about what we do well and knowing what threats and opportunities we face is critical to planning.
  5. Help with outsourcing options. Since organizational functions interact, there may be unintended consequences to outsourcing components of core competencies. For example, outsourcing bookkeeping may be sensible or it may be depriving us of valuable information about our purchased materials.
  6. Guidance for development or change. Once a system of core competencies is functioning, it provides a road map for development. Having a list of critical skills allows us to see how we might improve them to our advantage.
  7. Vision of the whole organization. The global perspective of core competencies allows us to study what we're really good at. Knowing where we excel allows us to better exploit our advantages.
  8. Innovation is required for survival. Core competencies help to identify specific behaviors in the organization that are appropriate to strategy design.

What do we need now are not just competent library and information professionals but also a more competitive one – a professionals who possess the expected competencies, training, knowledge and expertise. Sad to note, that not all professionals have the competitive advantage over the other. How one can be competitive? Does the education provided is reflective to the actual practice and realities? Or, it is just confine to the theoretical perspective of the library practice. To address this particular issue, the library and information profession must develop a culture of excellence, innovation and technical expertise. H.S. Siddamallaiah and C.R. Karisiddappa (2009) suggested to bridge this gap between theory and practice, LIS education requires three component viz. a) core knowledge of library science, b) application of IT and c) a knowledge of organization behavior and management including domain knowledge of the host organization.

However, today, we are in a world of which technology is at the core of all facets of operations in all types of industries including libraries and other cultural heritage institutions. What competencies do we need to succeed in this technology-driven environment? Quoting Meredith Farkas (2006), so what skills should new librarians have in this first part of the 21st century. At first, she was thinking about specific technology skills like HTML, network administration, PHP and MySQL, etc. While those are certainly important, what she really think library schools aren’t teaching students is the “big picture” topics; how to really be able to keep up with technology, make good decisions about its implementation, use it and sell it to others.”

Does the Philippine LIS curriculum include courses in ICT applicability to libraries and information centers? Are LIS graduates are technology literate? What about those practitioners? Do they have the necessary technological skills and competencies? Quoting the American Library Association (2010) library and information professionals must know the underlying principles on how these technologies work and are proficient in the use of a variety of these technologies in creating, maintaining and operating Web-based information systems. This too is an ever-evolving challenge, as the specific tools continually change. Thus, the most important technical competency librarians can acquire is the ability independently to pursue further learning concerning information handling technologies. And, must :

  1. demonstrate the ability to scan the environment for technological trends relevant to library and information services;
  2. describe how and why electronic information technologies have affected library services;
  3. demonstrate understanding of the nomenclature, principles and application of electronic information handling hardware and software (including adaptive technologies);
  4. demonstrate proficiency in creating accessible web-based information resources using contemporary techniques and following relevant federal and state guidelines;
  5. demonstrate knowledge of relevant technical standards and standard-setting bodies;
  6. demonstrate proficiency in evaluating technology products for their appropriate application;
  7. read with comprehension functional and evaluative descriptions of advanced technologies; and,
  8. assess the economic and service benefits derived from the application of technology to library and information services.

This issue should be of interest to all library and information professionals and most importantly, we must embrace this change. In this technology-driven world, not only technology related competencies are critically needed but also include other form of competencies such as business/organizational competencies, and the like.

Do these competencies are enabling us to make our services receptive, effective and apt to the needs of our constituents in this ever changing Information Age. To answer this, I have quoted M. Farkas (2006) ideas, "..but if librarians can adapt to and embrace change, can easily learn technologies, can keep up with changes in the profession, can plan for new services and evaluate old services, can develop services that meet the needs of all stakeholders, can evaluate technologies, and can sell their ideas and market services they will be better able to meet the challenges of changing user populations and changing technologies.”

The development of professional competencies may enable us to work efficiently and be able to survive in the new world of libraries and information services. Thus, the development of core competencies are about our skills, knowledge, and personal attributes that contribute to individual's success. There is a dire need to update library and information professional’s competencies to include current and emerging technologies. In this case, all professionals are expected to have these set of competencies and must play a more pro-active role as equal partners/collaborators with the scholars, scientists, industrialists, and academicians and the like.

Indeed, we are thinking machines with higher order intelligence and competence. The challenge now, is for us to embrace a new form of competence viz a viz learning the new concept of a technologically mediated information services.

*due to some technical glitches of video & audio synchronization, the video conference from the campus of Tallinn University, Estonia where he is presently located was not possible and instead Ms Audrey Anday, as the Council Vice-President and Conference Chair, timely decided to just read from an advance text copy of Mr Batiancila keynote address to the participants.

Works cited:

Sunday, April 25, 2010

PLAI-STRLC Summer Conference 2010

Civil Service Commission Announcement no. 20 s.2010 click here.
Department of Education Advisory no. 63 s. 2010 click here.
Commission of Higher Education Endorsement click here.

Invitation Letter and Pre-Registration Form click here.
Program of Activities click here.

UPDATED as of 28 April 2010

Manila Bulletin (April 27, 2010 issue) write up click here.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Summer Conference Advisory

Participants to the PLAI-STRLC Summer Conference in Palawan this coming 28-30 April 2010 are advised to send an email to plaistrlc[at]gmail[dot]com ASAP regarding your flight details so that the Secretariat of the Organizing Committee could consolidate this information for an organize pick-up of arriving participants from the Puerto Prinsesa City airport. It is more efficient and cost-saving in the long run (estimate transportation fee Php75-80 per head) for a group van pick-up rather than for individual participant to secure tricycle transportation which cost PhP 100-150 per person from the airport to the venue for the 15-20 minutes ride.

Likewise, participants with dietary requirements (e.g. vegetarian, Muslim) are advised to inform the Organizing Committee as early as now so that necessary arrangement could me made for your food.

Participants planning to avail of the CHED (Cultural, Historical, Educational) tour of Puerto Princesa to signify as early as now so that necessary arrangement with the concerned sites could be arranged for a smooth tour for everyone. This will be scheduled in the afternoon of April 30, 2010 with a tour fee of Php600. Likewise Underground River tour is scheduled on the early morning of May 1, 2010 with a tour fee of Php1500, inclusive of van, entrance fees, lunch and licensed tour guide. Maximum of 10 participants per van.

See you in Palawan!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

PLAI-STRLC Summer Conference Endorsement -- CHED

As of today, endorsement letters from CHED, DepEd and CSC of the PLAI-STRLC Summer Conference on 28-30 April 2010 at the St. Ezekiel Moreno Spirituality and Development Center, Puerto Princesa City, Palawan are available for viewing/download.

The number of CPE credit units for attending the conference is still unavailable. It will be posted/disseminated as soon it is made available by the PRC-CPEC for Librarians.

Monday, April 19, 2010

UPLSAA Board for 2010-2011

UPLSAA announced via email the names of the nine (9) elected new officers of the Executive Board for 2010-2011 term:

Fides Manuel Abad - Xavier School Library
Iyra Buenrostro - UP-SLIS
Denise Marie Cruz - House of Representatives Library
Rafael Joseph del Mundo - Ateneo de Manila University Rizal Library
Rhoel Rondilla - UP Main Library
Arvin Roque - Ace Bookstore
Cherry Angeles-Velasco - NISMED Library
Mercedes Vijandre - Miriam College Grade School Library
Ma. Theresa Villanueva - Ateneo de Manila University Rizal Library

The induction of the new set of officers will be on May 15, 2010 during the UPLSAA 60th Alumni Homecoming and General Assembly at the UP Balay Kalinaw, Diliman, QC.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Librarian Events for May 2010

UPDATED as of 12 May 2010

What :

When :
Where :

Fee :

What :
Lakbay Librari : Organization Setting of an
Academic Library
May 7, 2010 ; 8:30-12noon
St. Scholastica's College Archives
2560 Leon Guinto St., Malate, Manila

De La Salle University Archives
Taft Avenue, Manila
PhP 350.00 (Only 40 slots will be accommodated)

60th Alumni Homecoming and General Assembly
When :
May 15, 2010 ; 3pm
Where :
UP Balay Kalinaw
Diliman, QC

What :

When :
Where :

Fee :
Organizer :

Seminar on the "Practice of LIS"
Topics: new BLIS curriculum & syllabi, Philippine
Librarianship Act of 2003 (RA 9246) and CPE program
May 18, 2010
Grand Convention Center
Cebu City
PhP 500.00

What :
Summer Conference on "Revitalizing the Librarian's
Values Towards Transformation : Leveling-up
Librarians Empowerment for Better Library Management"
When :
May 19-21, 2010
Where :
University of Saint Louis
Tuguegarao, Cagayan
Organizer:CaAKAp Librarians' Association

What :
National Seminar-Workshop on "Towards a Dynamic
Partnership Program Between Teaching and
Information Professionals : Technology-Integration
Across Curriculum"
When :
May 20-22, 2010
Where :
AV Theater, PNU Edilberto P. Dagot Hall
Taft Avenue, Manila

Monday, April 05, 2010

New BFL Members

Today Ms Mila Medina Ramos of IRRI Library and Ms Arabella Magbutay Ananoria, Director of Libraries of University of Negros Occidental-Recoletos, Bacolod took their oath of office as the newest members of the Board for Librarians at the PRC Head Office Manila as replacement for retiring members Hon. Elnora L. Conti and Hon. Elizabeth R. Peralejo. PRC Chairman Nicolas F. Lapeña Jr. administered the oath of office of the new BFL members together with the other new appointees from the other professions.

As early as of March 26, 2010 during the ALL Forum held at the UPLB Main Library, forum participants have been treated to this advanced information by the BFL Chair herself, the Hon. Corazon M. Nera who proudly announced that PGMA already signed the appointment papers of Ms Ramos and oath taking will be held right after the Holy Week.

(L-R: Hon. Ruth R. Padilla [PRC Commissioner], Hon. Corazon M. Nera [BFL Chair], Hon. Arabelle M. Ananoria, Hon. Mila M. Ramos, and Nicolas F. Lapeña Jr. [PRC Chairman])

The selection of Ms Ramos (after Ms Leonor B. Gregorio - former UPLB Library Director) will be the second time a worthy colleague from our Council will sit as BFL member and expectedly will be instrumental in further advancing the cause of our noble profession given her extensive professional experience and varied international exposure.

(L-R: Hon. Elnora L. Conti, Hon. Arabella M. Ananoria, Hon. Corazon M. Nera, Hon. Ruth R. Padilla, Hon. Elizabeth R. Peralejo, Hon. Mila M. Ramos, and Ms. Lilia F. Echiverri (PLAI President)

Ms Ramos is the Librarian of the Library and Documentation Service of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI Library) based in Los Baños, Laguna. She is also a recipient of the PLAI-STRLC Distinguished Librarian Award given last October 9, 2009 at the Eastern Manila Hotel & Training Center, Antipolo City.

Our warmest congratulations to our new BFL members.