Between 1920 and 1923, a group of six professional librarians returned to the Philippines from the United States where they received training in library science as government scholarship grantees. They were Gabriel A. Bernardo, Eulogio Rodriguez, Jose Munda, and Cirilo B. Perez, all from Wisconsin Library School; Isaac V. Lucero from Illinois University; and Isidoro Saniel from New York State Library School. All of them realized the need for an association for the interchange of ideas on the growing importance of popular libraries. They approached Dr. Trinidad H. Pardo de Tavera, then Director of the Philippine Library and Museum, and proposed a plan of establishing a library association.

On October 22, 1923, Director Tavera called a conference of all librarians and other persons interested in the organization of an association of libraries. This marked the birth of the Philippine Library Association. A committee was immediately appointed to draft the association’s constitution and its by-laws. The draft of the constitution was presented in the next meeting where it was approved. During that same meeting, the officers of the association were elected. Dr. Tavera, a statesman, scholar, and bibliographer, was unanimously elected President; his assistant, Mr. Jose Zurbito, became Vice-President; Mr. Cirilo B. Perez, an assistant librarian of the Bureau of Science and Mrs. Rosa Abriol, librarian of the American Circulating Library of the Philippine Library Museum, were elected secretary and treasurer respectively.

Five Americans were among the thirty-three chartered members; the rest of the members were Filipino library staff members. The Association’s membership was very limited. At that time, the existing libraries in Manila consisted only of the Philippine Library and Museum with its three Manila City branches, government office libraries, private libraries, and libraries of schools, colleges, and universities with meager unorganized collections shelved generally in closed book cases, housed in small rooms, not readily accessible to the reader, and with clerks taking charge of them.