History of the Association

The history of library education and training in the Philippines started as early as 1910. Solomon V. Arnaldo wrote that “the history of library training in the Philippine Islands dates as early as 1910, when a group of library officials in Manila took up at a round-table conference the advisability of establishing a library school.” (The Library Mirror, 1936, p. 27) The need for trained librarians was foreseen by Dr. James A. Robertson, then library director of the Philippine Library. He requested the University of the Philippines Board of Regents to offer library science courses to augment the American staff of the Philippine Library. This was recorded in the 98th Minutes of the Meeting of the UP Board of Regents on February 16, 1914 as having received the “recommendation of librarian of the Philip-pine Library to establish special courses of study for library training at the University of the Philippines.” Subsequently, during the 100th meeting on March 18, 1914, the Board of Regents approved unanimously the recommendation of “the Committee to whom was referred the papers concerning the establishment in the University of special courses of study for library training and the recommendation that Dr. James A. Robertson be appointed as a lecturer in Library Science without compensation, made a report and the Board upon motion, duly seconded, unanimously approved the establishment in the University of a special course of study for library training and the appointment of Dr. James A. Robertson as lecturer in Library Science without compensation.” (Abstracts on Library Matters, University of the Philippines from the Minutes of the Board of Regents, 1933, p.9)

Thus, library education in the country began in 1914 under the College of Liberal Arts of the University of the Philippines in Padre Faura St., Ermita, Manila. However, classes were held in nearby Philippine Library and the Bureau of Science Library. The first instructors were the American staff of both libraries who served on a voluntary basis. In The Philippinensian 1920, p. 245, Isidoro Saniel’s article “The Library Science Course” recalled that “There were only ten students, regular and special, first enrolled in the three-year course in 1914.” Three years later, the UP Board of Regents during their 152nd Meeting on February 15, 1917, stated that, “The Board was advised by the University Council on January 27, 1917, approved a proposed 4 year’s course in ‘Library Science’ the first 2 years of which lead to the degree of Bachelor of Arts and the completion of 4 years to the degree of ‘Bachelor of Science in Library Science’” (Abstracts on Library Matters… 1933, p.16). By this time, the instruc-tors received additional compensation at Php 5.00 per hour. Our previous knowledge of the degree was 1916 as printed in the ILS Academic Catalog 1993-95, p.8.

In The Philippinensian 1916, p. 139, Francisco R. Ventura in his article “History of the Library Science Class” recounted: “in an atmos-phere of time-honored books in the Filipiniana Division of the Philip-pine Library, with the well-known pictures of Rizal, Dr. Tavera, Zulueta and Miralles de Imperial as mute but inspiring spectators on the occasion, the thirteenth day of July, 1914, witnessed the organization of the first and hitherto the only library science class that has ever been inaugurated in the Philippines, nay, in the Orient.” This time, there were only eight students enrolled. But the enrollment increased when the College of Education offered the degrees of Bachelor of Science in Education, Major or Minor in Library Science.

The first library science class, the Class of 1917 according to Ven-tura (The Philippinensian 1916, p.139), was handled by Dr. James A. Robertson, then Librarian of the Philippine Library. The regular students were Eustaquio G. Aquino, Eulogio B. Rodriguez, Jose M. Munda and Francisco R. Ventura, while the special students were Catalina Sucgang, Luis Montilla, Gregorio del Rosario and Pascual Santos. They were later joined by Gabriel A. Bernardo, Cirilo B. Perez and Nicetas del Mundo. The other instructors were: Syrene McKee, Chief Cataloguer, Philippine Li-brary; Blanche B. Shelp, Assistant Cataloger, Philippine Library; Mary Polk, Librarian, Bureau of Science; and Emma O. Elmer, Chief, Public Documents Division, Philippine Library. “Due to the absence of Dr. J. A. Robertson, the following year, Miss Mary Polk, in spite of the pressure of heavy office work, took charge of the course until the second semester of 1918 when she went on leave to the United States. She was succeeded by Miss Margaret C. Upleger, formerly reference librarian of the University of Oregon and Mr. Richard C. McGregor. (Saniel, 1920, p.245)

In Public Laws, v. 18, 198, pp. 172-175, Act No. 2746, known as the “Library Science Scholarship Act” or “Alonzo Act” was “An act authorizing the Secretary of Justice to grant scholarships to graduates of the College of Liberal Arts of the University of the Philippines to spe-cialize in the United States in bibliography and library science.” This Act passed on February 18, 198 was approved by the Philippine Legislature to encourage graduates to further their studies of the field. The first scholars called “government pensionados,” with their respective schools in the United States and year of completion, were as follows: “Gabriel A. Bernardo (1920), Cirilo B. Perez (1920), Eulogio B. Rodriguez (1920) and Jose M. Munda (1920), all at the University of Wisconsin while Isidoro Saniel (1922) at the New York State Library School and Isaac V. Lucero (1922) at the University of Illinois.” (The Library Mirror, 1929, p.48) After their return from their studies, Bernardo, Perez and Saniel were appointed Professors of Library Science while Rodriguez, Munda and Lucero worked at the Philippine Library and Museum.

There was a “demand for librarians and library assistants, especially of the Philippine Library and Museum which has established provincial branches and of the Bureau of Education which is in dire need of teacher-librarians” (Saniel, 1920, p.245). Graduates were required to take “the assistant librarian examination given for the first time by the Bureau of Civil Service on November 25, 1916 (The Philippinensian 1919, p. 217).

In the mimeographed issue of The Library Mirror 2(1): 43-45 April 1931, a list of graduates entitled “North, East, South, West” appeared and the first recorded graduates were in 1920: Isidoro Saniel, Bachelor of Arts, major in Library Science, and Isaac V. Lucero, Bachelor of Science in Education, major in Library Science, who were both Cebuanos, followed in 1921 by Gabriel A. Bernardo, Cirilo B. Perez and Ding U. Doo, a Chinese pensionado, with the degree Bachelor of Science in Library Sci-ences (BSLS).

In its 223nd Meeting, the UP Board of Regents on March 9, 1922 recorded: “It is recommended that the Library of the University be designated as the Department of Library Science to be placed on a level of equality with other departments of instruction for the service of all colleges of the university system” (Abstracts on Library Matters … 1922, p.29). It also handled the teaching of library science courses in the University. Its first Head was Mary Polk, then Librarian of the Bureau of Science Library. She was succeeded by Gabriel A. Bernardo upon her death on April 12, 1924 at the age of sixty. The University Library was inaugurated on March 17, 1931 at 4:15 P.M. (The Library Mirror, April 1931, p.9).

In Solomon V. Arnaldo’s article “The Library Club” in The Philippinensian 1920, p.457, he said that “on November 20, 1926, at the initiative of three students, Gerardo T. Domingo, Eduardo Q. Edralin and Basilio L. Hernandez, the last acting as its first president,” the library science students then organized the UP Library Club. He further stated that the Club’s objectives were: “to boost interests, to discuss practical library problems, to promote interests, to discuss practical library problems, to promote interest in reading, to promote library relations with other organized bodies in the University, and to inculcate the spirit of friend-ship among library science students and library workers.” He re-counted that the “the Club meets once a month and every semester it invites at least one speaker from the library world to speak. Last semester Professor Isidoro Saniel, Acting Librarian of the University, gave an illustrated lecture on ‘Public Libraries in the United States’. The Club holds a semestral social gathering, like the Ac-quaintance Party held at the Faculty Hall on August 13th. At this party many were surprised to find that ‘librarians’ can be just as ‘human’ as anybody else and can play and dance and laugh just as well. Which is contrary to the common conception of librarians. Early in September, the Club was asked a representation in the hearings held before the House Committee on Libraries and Museums of the Philippine Legislature on important library bills. It did its part by presenting a resolution endorsing and giving suggestions to improve the provisions of H.B. No. 1905, known as the Soliven Bill, which it considered the most important.” In 1929, it came out with the first issue of The Library Mirror, volume 1, number 1, May 1929, which served as the official publication of the Club and later the official publication of the UP Department of Library Science. Its first Editor was Perfecto S. Sison while the Associate Editors were Aquilino Y. Argosino, Solomon V. Arnaldo and Concordia Sanchez. Dalamaco Alarilla was the Business Manager. The last known issue was volume 3, number 1, May 1936. “It has also within a short time helped to advertise library activities in the University of the Philippines both in Europe and America notably in the University of Leipzig and in Yale (Arnaldo, 1930, p.457). In The Library Mirror 1(3): 45-46 July 1929, it stated that the bill was on “establishing provincial, city, and municipal public libraries with a proposed modification.”

The Philippinensian 1932, p. 430, cited the membership of the club as “all students taking library science course during the year, the entire personnel of the Department of Library Science, alumni of the University who took library science courses dur-ing their residence, and all other people interested in library work.” The Library Mirror 2(3): 120-124 March 1922 recalled that “with the increase in membership, the Club together with the UP Dept. of Library Science celebrated Book Week and a Poster Exhibition at the University Library on August 13-21, 1932. Other celebrations were held at the National Library in Manila, the UP Northern Luzon Junior College in Vigan, Ilocos Sur, and the Pangasinan Academic High School Library in Lingayen, Pangasinan. These libraries were managed by our alumni.” The other activities of the Club were listed in The Library Mirror 2(3): 126-129 March 1933. The Library Mirror 3(1): 51 May 1936 issues published the first alumni homecoming held at the Great Eastern Hotel Manila, on September 28, 1935 after the Junior Librarian Examination on the same date. It was attended by 21 alumni.

In fact, there were also other organizations of library science students. On page 52 of The Library Mirror 1(3) December 1929, it stated that there were “two fraternities in the library science circle, “A.B.” (Alcove Brotherhood, p. 58) and “L.L.U.”

The UPLSAA Alumni Directory 1980, p. 33 listed that in 1922 the first graduate of the Bachelor of Science in Education, mi-nor in Library Science (BSE-LS Minor), was Benito Caluya of Piddig, Ilocos Norte, while in 1927, the first graduate of the Bachelor of Philosophy, major in Library Science (PhB-LS), was Rosa Agcaoili. Except in 1923, the University graduated yearly library science students up to 1941 when World War II interrupted schools in the whole country. It was only in 1946 that classes resumed and the University graduated two library science students, Luz de Guzman-Cruz (BSE-LS) and Victoria Fargas-Ahrendsorf (BSLS). Since then, there were regular graduates annually. Before 1950, there were already more than 200 graduates (UPLSAA Directory of Member 1995, pp. 68-70).

Throughout the pre-war years and after liberation, the UP Library Club served not only as an association of library science students and UP library personnel and other alumni but most importantly, as the interim alumni association. The damage to major libraries in Manila brought about by the Liberation of Manila in 1945 encouraged librarians to be more vigilant in the rehabilitation of the collections. It was in this spirit that the leaders in the library field thought of organizing a professional association of library science alumni.

In January 1949, some units in UP Manila including the University Library moved to Diliman, Quezon City. The Library was temporarily housed at the first floor of Malcolm Hall, College of Law. In the “Introduction” made by Angelica A. Cabaňero in the UPLSAA Alumni Directory 1980, she recalled that finally, after thirty years on June 22, 1950, through the initiative of Prof. Gabriel A. Bernardo, University Librarian and Head of the Department of Library Science, several alumni gathered at a luncheon at the UP Library and organized the UP Library Science Alumni Association (UPLSAA). Its foremost objectives were: “(1) to foster and encourage fellowship among the UP library science majors and minors, and (2) to promote the best interests of library education and librarianship in the Philippines.” The first set of officers, 1950-1951, were: President, Antonio P. Lazo (BSE-LS 1930), Librarian of Arellano University; Vice-President, Natividad Polintan-Verzosa (BSLS 1924), Assistant Professor, UP Depart-ment of Library Science; Secretary, Aurora Espiritu-Castellanes (BSE-LS 1933); Librarian, Mapa High School; Treasurer, Isabel Bernardo (BSLS, 1949), Librarian, United States Information Service; and PRO, Angelica B. Abalon (BSE-LS 1949, cl), Librarian, Philippine National Bank. This gathering appeared as a news item on p. 6 July 7, 1950 issue of The Manila Times entitled “U.P. Library Science Alumni Formed.” The press release also stated that “The press release also stated that “The Association will hold a meeting tomorrow, July 8, 1950 at 3:00 p.m. All graduates of the University of the Philippines who are majors and minors in library science are requested to attend this said meeting.” They were responsible for drafting and ratification of the Constitution and By-Laws.

During the alumni homecoming in 1951, the following were elected to the 1951-1952 Board: Vicente S. Romero (BSE-LS 1932), Bureau of Mines Library, President, and Pacifico M. Austria (BS 1933), UP Library, Secretary. Afterwards, the Association became inactive. But “1953 saw Isabel Bernardo, an active Secretary who kept enjoining the UPLSAA members to attend meetings in which bonding of librarians was to be discussed alongside the submission of a list of periodicals obtaining in their respective libraries and index cards of assigned Philippine periodical titles” (Cabaňero, 1980).
Besides the regular celebration of the National Book Week, the annual homecoming and the Christmas Party at the UP Library, the Association’s projects were focused on the indexing of periodicals and the listing of alumni. This was done in order to retrieve whatever materi-als can be salvaged as a result of World War II. All three major libraries: the Bureau of Public Libraries, the Scientific Library and the University of the Philippines Library were destroyed. Thus, the mission of all library science graduates was to rebuild the war-damaged libraries.

The 1955-1956 officers headed by Atty. Pascual M. Martinez (BSE-LS 1941) came out with the first issue of the UP Library Science Alumni Association NEWSLETTER on June 3, 1955, volume I, number 1. Then, this title was changed to UPLSAA Alumni News, volume 1, number 2, June 1956. Its editor was Ester M. Ronquillo (BSLS 1947). It covered the minutes of meetings and all activities of the Association including news from and about the alumni. In the volume 2, numbers 3-4, March 1958 issue, it became the UPLSAA Bulletin. The mimeographed directory of alumni members came out also in 1955. A Class Directory 1920-1955, was published in volume 1, number 2, June 1956 issue, while an Alumni Directory came out in 1980, then in 1988, 1995, 1997 and now 2000. The regular alumni publication resumed publication as the UPLSAA Alumni Newsletter. Its first issue, number 1 came out on August 1983. The editor was Carolina A. Nemenzo-Sacris (AB-LS 1958) under the presidency of Ruben D. Ruivivar (BSE-LS 1954).

In 1961, the UP Board of Regents established the Institute of Library Science thus separating it from the University Library. Dean Rosa M. Vallejo’s (AB-LS 1951) article “The UP Institute of Library Science Turns Thirty” which appeared in the Journal of Philippine Librarianship 14:1-6 199101992, recalled its history. The ILS was established in order to offer professional library education in the country.

The first Constitution and By-Laws in 1950 was revised and approved on March 24, 1963. The term of the Executive Board in 1962 became two years making Jose J. Ferrer (BSLS 1940) as the first two-term President. The 1977-1979 Executive Board led by its President, Amor C. Guerrero (BSE-LS 1934), was responsible for the adopting of the seal and logo of the Association. The constitution was revised again on April 15, 1978 making the term of office yearly, the Vice-President as President-Elect and the immediate Past President as Ex-Officio member of the Executive Board. They were also responsible for the Php 10,000.00 scholarship fund raised the Tea Social. The Constitution and By-Laws was again amended on April 13, 1985.

During the incumbency of Rosemari N. Bamba (BLS 1969, MLS 1976), 1980-1981 President, the Association was incorporated and registered on May 5, 1980 with the Securities and Exchange Commission (Registration No. 92689). It was also registered with the Bureau of Internal Revenue and was given Tax Account Number (TAN) 9139-193-8. The Association also published the Alumni Directory in time for the IFLA Congress in Manila on August 18-23, 1980.

From then on, the regular activities of the Association were the annual alumni homecoming and business meeting, support to the Gabriel A. Bernardo Memorial Lecture of the Institute of Library Science and the Gabriel A. Bernardo Memorial Scholar-ship Fund, fund raising activities, the regular publication of the UPLSAA Newsletter, the updating of the directory published also in 1988 and 1995 and followed up by a computer print-out in 1997, the holding of continuing library education programs when in 1996, the Association applied for accreditation to the Professional Regulation Commission. In 1997 and 1998, foreign lecturers were invited in the continuing library education programs.

Despite the economic hardships and the lack of support from some alumni, the Association will still continue to exist and be triumphant of its objectives because no profession can be successful in its endeavors if there are no professional associations to promote and enhance the profession such as our very own UPLSAA.


<span style="color: #999999;"><em>History courtesy of R Danteo Perez</em></span>