At the Association of Special Libraries of the Philippines: Information Resource Sharing Forum
Presidential Broadcast Studio, Kalayaan Hall, Malacañan, Manila
July 11, 2014
I regret being unable to join you today: at this moment the 2015 budget is being presented to the Cabinet. I would very much have wanted to be with you and beg your understanding.
At a time when the value of knowledge seems severely reduced, because it is freely available online, one can only wonder at the irony we face: the accumulated information and learning of humanity has never been so accessible and yet never has it been in some respects so remote from the public.
The reason for this as endlessly discussed and analyzed is that the colossal scale of information out there, puts discernment and comprehension at a premium; superficiality is accompanied by an insistence on instant gratification. My point in bringing this up is, never has your role been more crucial: now more than ever, you bear on your shoulders the heavy yet rewarding task of not only being custodians but advocates of knowledge and an informed society.
Each of you is tasked with amassing a hoard – of books, documents, of data– so that the public should it feel inclined, can plunder that hoard to its hearts content. You are building up riches of the mind in order to give men and women the intellectual tools with which to build a new world. It is a counterintuitive task in some respects: to build up at great cost in time and money, so that others may take away and build value, not for your institutions but for themselves: though of course in building value for ones self one ideally contributes to the whole.
I hope you will not flag or fail in this mission. After all if resources are required, then together, we can reduce the burden to each other by sharing what each of us has; building on the strengths of our individual collections and enriching each others collections out of a shared commitment to the betterment of humanity.
Today you will be sharing ideas on how to do this better; you will be strengthening the personal bonds that enable each of us to persevere in our sometimes lonely, even thankless tasks. May you remain advocates of a humanistic attitude that cherishes the past –its artifacts and ideas and ideals–while playing a vital role in the building of a more generous, more informed and more humane future.
For anyone who dwells in the great halls of the knowledge community, the job is the reward. All of us are privileged to roam the stacks, fortunate to add to the great body of work begun by Dewey, to be like Linneaus in categorizing the world, each according to the frameworks of our individual disciplines.
On a personal note, let me express my gratitude to each of you for the generosity of spirit and solidarity you exhibit to non-experts like myself, when we have questions or concerns. Each question you answer and with every citation you help us find, you allow us to stand on the shoulders of giants.
I hope that in the remaining two years of the Presidents term, my office and the institutions we work with, will work even closer and achieve what we have set out to do: to enable the Filipino people and the world to access the institutional memory of our Republic.