Stealth librarianship is a way of being.
This particular edition of the manifesto applies to academic libraries. The principles of stealth librarianship apply to all branches of the profession, each in particular ways. Other manifestos could exist for, say, public or corporate librarians.
However the core is the same: to thrive and survive in a challenging environment, we must subtly and not-so-subtly insinuate ourselves into the lives of our patrons. We must concentrate on becoming part of their world, part of their landscape.
Our two core patron communities as academic librarians are faculty and students. This manifesto concerns faculty. A later manifesto may address infiltrating student communities with stealth librarians. Or, you can write that one yourself. Go for it.
The jobs of faculty comprise research, teaching and service. We must stealthfully insinuate ourselves in those areas. We must make our laser-like core focus our patrons.
- We must stop going to librarian conferences and instead attend conferences where our patrons will be present.
- We must stop presenting only to our fellow librarians. That’s what Twitter is for. We must make our case to our patrons on their turf, not make our case to ourselves on our own turf.
- Where possible, we must collaborate with faculty in presentations.
- We must stop reading the formal library literature. That’s what librar* blogs are for. We must familiarize ourselves with the literature and scholarly communications ecosystems of our patron communities.
- We must stop writing the formal library literature. That’s what librar* blogs are for. We must make our case for the usefulness of what we do in the literature of our patron communities.
- We must stop joining librarian associations. That’s what Friendfeed and Facebook are for. (Go LSW!) We must instead join associations that revolve around our patron communities.
- We must not segregate ourselves within “library divisions” in those organizations but must partake fully in those associations. As above, this includes conferences and society publications.
- In terms of engaging faculty at conferences and in the literature, we must engage both their teaching and research roles.
- We must stop serving on so damn many library committees and make time to sit on committees at all levels of our institutions’ governance structure. It may take time and considerable effort to stealthily insinuate ourselves into all the places we belong.
- We must invite ourselves to and actively participate in departmental meetings, faculty councils, senates and whatever other bodies make sense.
- We must integrate ourselves as fully into the teaching mission and classroom environment of our faculty as staffing levels allow. We have much of value to teach their students and can help faculty fulfill their curricular goals.
- We must fully engage our faculty in the social networking spaces where they live. As well as all the library people we engage, we must also follow and interact with our patrons on Twitter, Facebooks and other sites, where appropriate.
- Add your manifesto element here.
A couple of final points.
As with all manifestos, this one is subject to the failings of hyperbole and oversimplification. Think of it as a series of provocative statements not a realistic plan of action. For example, I don’t really think we should all abandon our professional associations.
This is based on hope and promise, not despair.
Similarly, it is incomplete and flawed. Please feel free to add to it in the comments as well as suggesting modifications and deletions. Certainly the education part could be expanded.
And the student one. Let’s start building that one together in the comments.
And yes, I did really start thinking about this at Science Online 2011, with some ideas here and here. I also started germinating some of these thoughts after seeing how the library sessions at Science Online 2010 worked out, see here and here, noting how the session on Reference Managers was better attended and didn’t have “library” in the title. And looking further back, it’s a fairly common theme for my blogging, for example here and here.
What does this all mean? I’m not sure. But it’s worth thinking about.
Finally, this document is released under the CC0 license. Have at it.
Update 2011.02.23: Some futher links and reaction to this manifesto:
- Going native with stealthy librarian ninjas
- A stealthy library scout, armed with a lead pipe
- I prefer Ninja Librarianship, myself
- A Stealth Librarianship Manifesto: Some thoughts
- A Stealth Librarianship Manifesto
- Talking with faculty
- Neat reads round-up
- Working More Closely with Faculty
- A Stealth Librarian Manifesto (from Confessions of a Science Librarian)
- Lead Pipe Debates the Stealth Librarianship Manifesto