[OPINION] In choosing a degree, consider Library and Information Science

During my last year in high school, like any other student, I was unsure of what I wanted to be. I had a hard time choosing a career. I browsed the list of degrees available on the University of the Philippines (UP) College Admission Test application form, and had no idea what to put in.

I did seek guidance from my family. My brother recommended that I pick Economics. After pondering a bit and doing some research on the job security and futures at hand, I decided to put it in my application form even though I was still unsure whether I made the right decision. (READ: An UPCAT story: Why UP?)

A year later, I got accepted into UP Los Baños under the program I applied for.

I was confident about myself since I was taking a degree filled with numbers, and back in high school, I was good in math.

But it turned out, with UP being notorious for having difficult subjects, I almost flunked two math subjects. I almost failed the basic economics course. I opted to shift out, faced with the truth that I wasn't cut out for the course.

Journey to an important career

I transferred to UP Diliman in the hopes of finding a new program. I was still confused at that time, but I knew I had to pick one. So, I listed all my options. My grades weren't high enough to give me a buffet of choices.

I wanted to follow my father into journalism, but I feared public speaking. Back then, I knew I could write, but I did not have the courage to express it yet. I loved books and there was a degree program perfect for that – Bachelor in Library and Information Science (BLIS).

During my first year in my new course, the idea of becoming a librarian was the last thing on my mind. It didn't help that I was sometimes mocked by some friends since their perception of a librarian was an old, snobbish woman who makes sure people are quiet.

I tried to justify that my degree could help me land a career in law, medicine, or business. BLIS can lead to those career paths, but the degree program also offers much more.

More than catalogs, indexes

A BLIS graduate is equipped with skills in management, marketing, information technology, storytelling, and information ethics. The core courses consist of referencing, cataloging, indexing, collection development, and abstracting. Most importantly, a graduate of BLIS is equipped with the skills and knowledge to handle information. (READ: FAST FACTS: National Library of the Philippines)

I'd also like to argue that the rise of e-books and the advent of the internet do not make librarians obsolete. Rather, there is higher demand for the profession now more than ever.

The responsibility of a librarian does not end with the catalog, but continues as a guide of a community in their pursuit and consumption of information. Librarians wield the power to understand both the quick arrangement, dissemination, and ethics involved in the realm of information. (READ: Where have our libraries gone?)

Another such path that could be taken is that of an archivist – the one who oversees the preservation and conservation of cornerstone achievements of humanity stored in documents, artifacts, and other historical entities.

Why do we need libraries?

Currently, there is a lack of public libraries and information centers in the country. This is unfortunate since libraries ensure the development of the education of individuals. They provide a haven for those who want to discuss, and are thirsty for new information. (READ: How community libraries can change lives)

It is in libraries where children develop a sense of love for reading; teens research and gain knowledge for their studies; adults find jobs and gather resources in the advancement of their careers; and seniors read daily news and learn about technology.

It is in these fundamental functions of a library that we understand that there is a need for more libraries and more professionals in this field. (READ: Filipinos barely know if there are libraries near their homes)

I entered college hoping to become an economist, but I went out as a librarian. Being in this profession in the Philippines means that one must pass the licensure exam. In retrospect, my service as a librarian, as an information professional, does not only hinge on personal career, but rather in service of the Filipino people.

A librarian has the responsibility to guide their patrons to the truth. Nowadays, such a responsibility is greatly needed. To the youth, consider Library and Information Science. – Rappler.com

Gillian Reyes is a registered librarian who works at the University of the Philippines Diliman. He often writes stories for children, and hopes to build a library for kids someday.