Lopez Memorial Museum and Library (LMML) executive director Cedie Lopez Vargas is all praises for the librarians Elvira Iremedio, now a retainer, and Mercedita Servida, head librarian, of the country’s foremost repository of Filipiniana and historical artifacts.
Vargas says the two are exemplary in terms of their love for the archives, the institution and research in general, which makes them wellloved by scholars and researchers who frequent LMML for their requirements.
“The value of our holdings and archival content is priceless. We cannot just hire anybody to work here. We must look for people to whom we can entrust such valuable archives, people who will show dedication, commitment and love for the archives,” she says, adding that Iremedio and Servida are models for those who want to work with such a collection of books and artifacts.
Iremedio joined LMML in 1963, a fresh graduate of Bachelor Science in Education, major in Library Science. Her first boss was the late Renato Constantino, LMML director at the time. Starting as an apprentice, she went into overdrive “memorizing all the books” because Constantino, a book author and newspaper columnist, would just say the title or author of a book and expect her to immediately know what he wants and where to get it.
‘A book a day’
“I learned a lot from RC (Constantino) as a boss. I developed the discipline to read even one book a day, so I will know the contents or even just the subject matter of the books in the collection. This is how I was able to properly archive the books, know their authors and remember their content,” Iremedio says. Despite her love affair with the archives, Iremedio’s fondest times in LMML for almost 50 years has been interacting with different kinds of researchers—students, writers, and professors, some from abroad. “Due to the time they spent with us in the Library, it is like we have become friends,” says Iremedio mentioning names like historian Ambeth Ocampo, fictionist Gilda Cordero-Fernando, essayist Felice Sta. Maria, National Artist for Historical Literature Carlos Quirino, filmmaker Danny Zialcita and critic and academic Nicanor Tiongson.
Servida, who also majored in Library Science, joined LMML in 1980, after three years as a high school librarian in a private school in her hometown, Imus, Cavite. The assignment fit her to a T.
“I really like my scope of work: dealing with other people and learning new things. What I have is the opportunity for continuous learning and professional growth. I love and enjoy my work, we carry the name Lopez proudly. I’ve met many scholars, researchers and even ordinary people doing library work. I’ve met people from high society like [beauty queen] Gemma Cruz Araneta and various book authors. And it is so flattering when they include our names in their acknowledgments when their books are published. We are just doing our jobs, but they really value the service we have provided,” says Servida.
‘Know the collection well’
She says library work is a long process to learn. “You must know your collection well. For as long as someone is looking for something, you must find it. It is not a matter of just acquiring books and adding titles, knowing your collection helps you make everything accessible to all,” Servida says.
Both Iremedio and Servida say nationalism and unity are values that reign supreme in LMML. According to Servida, you cannot help but love your country when you are put in charge of so much of its history all the time. Meanwhile, Iremedio says the LMML organization is so lean they all have to pitch in and multitask to achieve their objectives, “just like a family.”
As the LMML team comes to terms with the role of a library in the digital age, Vargas says she is counting on Iremedio and Servida to continue in their roles as stewards and gatekeepers of its priceless content. “While endeavors to reinvent the functions and relevancy of the Library continue, the preservation and stewardship of the archival collection remain critical and of primary importance,” she says.
For LopezLink readers, Iremedio says, “I hope our Lopez Group kapamilya will support our membership program. We must start in our own backyard.”
Servida says, “Come to the Library and you will discover so much about our country’s history and culture. If there is anything you are looking for, we will do our best to find it for you.”