Prof. Rodolfo Y. Tarlit, University Librarian

A simple, unassuming person – that’s how Mr. Rodolfo Y. Tarlit, the new University Librarian of the University of the Philippines (UP) in Diliman, Quezon City may be best described.  Behind that simple façade, however, hides a technical expertise in library and information science. What’s more, Rod, to those who know him well, typifies the government employee who puts his work first before other priorities.  No wonder he now occupies the top post of the UP Library Diliman hierarchy.

Rod was born to Ilocano parents in San Jose City, Nueva Ecija on August 2, 1949. The family moved later to Tarlac City where Rod spent his elementary and high school years.  One of the chosen few to enter the University of the Philippines, Rod enrolled in the Bachelor of Arts degree, major in History, finishing it in 1971.

It was worth noting that while in his undergraduate years Rod worked as a student assistant to earn some pocket money for himself.  The place where he was assigned was the library!  He must have liked his work such that after graduation, he applied for a job at the University Library. Of course, he was taken in because of his positive attitude towards library work as he himself exemplified when he was then a student assistant in the library.  His first position item was as a library aide.

In the 1970s, Rod enhanced his library science skills. He went through various technical workshops.  The first was the workshop for the establishment of the University Archives, which ran from February to May, 1973 where Rod logged in 300 training hours. This was immediately followed by the in-service training on readers and technical services, in May-June, 1973.  More technical workshops ensued on the following subject areas of library science:  records management, documentation, computer programming, and subject analysis, vocabulary control and thesaurus construction.

By the 1980s, Rod was already a well-honed librarian in the technical sense of the word.  For that reason, he was eligible to take the six-month On-the-Job Training on Archival Administration (Colombo fellowship) at the National Archives of Malaysia.  He also underwent the Post-Graduate Training Course for Science Information Specialists in Southeast Asia, which was held in UP Diliman but participated by various librarian representatives from Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Laos, and Vietnam.  Rod was then enjoying a UNESCO-UNDP-NSTA-UP Institute of Library Science (UPILS) Fellowship, which enabled him to participate in said training that covered two academic semesters, from June 1982 to March 1983.

With the technical knowledge and skills Rod acquired, Rod’s budding professional career in library science bloomed. He was soon besieged by invitations of librarian associations to be this or that seminar’s resource speaker. He played such resource speaker role in the Seminar Workshop on Library Reclassification from DDC to LC sponsored by the Philippine Association of Academic and Research Libraries (PAARL), September, 1984; in the Seminar-Workshop on the Library of Congress Classification Scheme sponsored by the Inter-Institutional Consortium (IIC), September, 1985; and the Seminar-Workshop on Cataloging and Classification, November 1985.

Rod embarked on another lifetime decision in the early 80s.  He enrolled in the Master of Library Science degree offered by the UPILS.  He graduated in 1986, after passing his thesis on the biography of the first woman senator of the Philippines, Geronima T. Pecson. By April 1986, Rod graduated from his MLS degree.

Rod continued his unending pursuit of professionalism and excellence in library science.  In October 1986, he underwent a five-day training on microcomputers (DOS commands) which strengthened all the more his expertise on computers and their use in library science.  By February 1987, Rod was already a participant of the Seventh Conference of Southeast Asian Librarians (CONSAL).  In June, 1987, Rod, through the Ford-Mellon Grant, was sent to attend the Training on Software Mini/Micro CDS/ISIS and Study Visit of Its Application in a Library, with venues at the Chulalongkorn University Academic Resources Center and the Asian Institute of Technology Library and Documentation Center, in Bangkok, Thailand.

By reason of his participation in the last-cited training, Rod became the seminar chairman and resource speaker in the PAARL-sponsored Seminar-Workshop on Collections Evaluation and Development and Technical Report Writing, October 1987. He also took charge, as course director, of the UPILS-UP Library Science Alumni Association (UPLSAA)-sponsored Seminar on the Introduction to the Mini/Micro CDS/ISIS Software Package and Its Applications to Library and Information Work, which also ran in October, 1987.  In February 1989, Rod traveled to New Delhi, India, to attend the International Conference on Bibliographic Databases and Network.

By the early 1990s, Rod had gone far in the UP Diliman organizational hierarchy.  He was beginning in 1992 up to 1999, the Head of the library unit within UP Diliman, which is the present College of Mass Communication Library.  In 1999 to 2011, he occupied the position of Head Librarian, Filipiniana Books Section, of the UP Diliman Main Library.

Rod also was promoted from one position to another higher position in the UP Diliman Library.  From library aide at first, he went on to become Library Assistant, then  Librarian I to College Librarian V positions.

Expectedly, Rod’s expertise soon circulated far and wide.  Throughout the 1990s and the 2000s, the UPLSAA, the PAARL, the Public Librarians Association of the Philippines (PLAI), the Association of Special Libraries of the Philippines (ASLP), the University of the East Library Science Alumni Association (UELSAA), the Baguio-Benguet Librarians Association (BBLA), the National Library, not to mention his own UP Diliman Library and the UPILS vied for each other in inviting Rod to be the resource speaker, lecturer, seminar chairman, rapporteur, moderator, facilitator, and participant of trainings on various aspects of library work.  PLAI also made him co-convenor of a series of fora conducted in 2007 and 2009.

Rod was also tapped from 1993 to 2000 as reviewer in the subject of cataloging and classification as well as indexing and abstracting for review classes conducted by different librarians’ associations.  Starting 1996, Rod served as Senior Lecturer III in the UPILS teaching such courses as Introductory and Advanced Cataloging and Classification, Abstracting and Indexing, and Information Analysis.  Earlier, from 1990 to 1991, other institutions offering library science courses, such as Far Eastern University and Holy Angel University, invited Rod to be their professional lecturer in some subjects.

On September 26, 2011, Rod became Officer-in-Charge of the University Library, UP Diliman with the retirement of the former University Librarian, Salvacion M. Arlante.  For six months, he took the helm of the UP Diliman Library as officer-in-charge until on April 1, 2012, Rod finally received the formal appointment from the UP Board of Regents as the next University Librarian.

Rod is affiliated with many librarian associations. After assuming several officer positions, Rod became the vice-president of PAARL in 1989 and then its president in 1990.  He also assumed similar positions in the UPLSAA in surprisingly the same years, which makes one wonder how he could shuffle off his time from his workplace to the offices of these librarian associations to attend meetings and plan activities. With the Philippine Association of Teachers of Library Science (PATLS), Rod became its vice-president in 1996 and its president in 1997.

Rod was pretty busy in 1997.  He was a member of the Executive Committee of the National Commission or Culture and the Arts/Committee on Libraries and Information Service as well as Member of the CPE Council of the Board of Librarians. To top it all, Rod was the vice-president of PLAI in 1997, becoming its president in 1998.

Rod is also a writer of articles published in professional librarian journals and of papers presented in conferences; editor of conference proceedings and of the UP Library Bulletin, which is an electronic bulletin available on the UP Diliman Library website.  Moreover, he is a critic of a newly published book by Dr. Isagani Medina, and student adviser to MLS students working on their thesis as requirement for the completion of the course.

Rod has been a recipient of various awards.  His first was the Outstanding Alumnus Award given by the UPSLAA in 1993.  The PAARL conferred him the Professional Service Award in 1995 and followed it up in 1996 by awarding Rod the recognition, Academic Librarian of the Year.  In the same year, the UP awarded him the Gawad Tsanselor as Outstanding Professional Staff.

In 1997 and 1998, Rod received the Severino I. Velasco Award for his role as PLAI conference chair and for conducting seminar-workshops and congresses in various parts of the Philippines on the application of information technologies to libraries.  PLAI twice awarded him in 1999 by giving him the Gabriel A. Bernardo Memorial Award and the Service Award.  In 2009, PLAI gave Rod another Service Award.

From these awards, one can infer how Rod dedicated his career to service for the professionalization of library science in the Philippines.  He may be looking just like the ordinary librarian behind the desk and working in front of the computer monitor.  But Rod is the time-tested librarian who has served all his life for libraries and their growth, improvement, and development in step with the fast-changing trends in information and communication technologies.  >>>M. Marquez-Omega

Prof. Tarlit, Guest Speaker during the 2012 UPLIS Recognition Program