My Stealth Librarianship Manifesto post from last month continues to gather comments and page views, albeit at a slower rate than before. Of course, that’s very gratifiying to see. If you haven’t checked in on the post in a while, there are probably a couple of new comments with librarians’ stories that you might want to check out.
To keep the idea going, I’ve decided to have occasional posts highlighting “stealthy librarian” posts and articles I see around the web. These are posts that highlight facutly/librarian collaboration in teaching or research, librarians integrated with business teams, librarians at non-traditional librarian conferences and other instances of close co-operation between librarians and patrons/researchers on non-library ground.
Here’s the first bunch.
What if a reference librarian was assigned to a college course, to be on hand to suggest books, online links, or other resources based on class discussion? A media-studies course at Baylor University tried the idea last semester, with an “embedded librarian” following the class discussion via Twitter.
At the start of each class session, the professor, Gardner Campbell, asked the 11 students to open their laptops, fire up Twitter, and say hello to their librarian, who was following the discussion from her office. During the hourlong class, the librarian, Ellen Hampton Filgo, would do what she refers to as “library jazz,” looking at the questions and comments posed by students, responding with suggestions of links or books, and anticipating what else might be helpful that students might not have known to ask.
“We get paid to be interrupted!”
The academics in the room started out by saying that they weren’t sure when it was appropriate to ask for assistance from a librarian. At what point, they wondered, are we impinging on the librarian’s time? Librarians responded that it sounded as though they needed to give out better information about the specific services librarians offer, like research interviews. In general, they said, they welcome any kind of consultation. “We get paid to be interrupted!” one librarian said.
Professional expectations inform our behavior
It emerged that both librarians and scholars are subject to professional pressures that inform their expectations of each other. Scholars were surprised to hear that it’s professionally important for librarians to claim research interviews. “You like that?” one faculty member asked. “I always thought I was bothering you!” Scholars were also surprised to hear what a great professional boon it would be for librarians to be credited as collaborators. “I had no idea about the professional expectations for librarians,” a faculty member said. Librarians told scholars how much they’d appreciate professional recognition like inclusion on a dissertation committee.
It’s clear that adopting embedded librarianship within your organisation pays dividends on many levels. One of those is the ability to grasp the strategic mission of your organisation more strongly, which trickles down into better understanding of your partners and co-workers’ contributions, challenges, language and information needs.
Grasping your organisation’s strategic mission also enables you to gain deeper insights into its workings and generate deliverables that transform information into knowledge. Once this is achieved, information professionals can move beyond improving process and begin to pursue broader skills and professional goals.
Along with other tasks, this new role involves working with researchers in their offices physically out of the library’s building, managing their output, assessing dissemination strategies, monitoring the impact of their production through bibliometric indicators or following the publication process and editing drafts before sending them to journals.
In the Spanish case we can see how the profession is evolving by incorporating elements of the “embedded model.” In conclusion, using skills and techniques that librarians already have, and having the ability to apply them in different environments where they haven’t been applied before and where they can really make a difference, helps to make these professionals irreplaceable.
Tech for tech’s sake is over. In a year when social media is helping inform our coverage of everything from political upheaval in the Middle East to the unfolding nuclear disaster in Japan, your app better do something more than be cool.
I kept coming back to the librarians as I talked to people at SXSWi because this micro-track mirrored what I saw tweeted and written about the conference as a whole. Interactive didn’t feel blindly focused on discovering the killer app. Tech didn’t feel like an end unto itself — rather, it was about processing data with a purpose; data for a greater good.
Go read the articles and posts, they are truly inspirational.
If you know of a post or article that highlights or describes a stealthy librarian in action, please let me know either in the comments or at jdupus at yorku dot ca. I’ll feature anything I’m sent in a later post.
And please don’t be shy to promote your own work.
Here’s an updated list of all the posts (including mine) that mention the manifesto:
- A stealth librarianship manifesto
- Going native with stealthy librarian ninjas
- A stealthy library scout, armed with a lead pipe
- Stealthy zombie vampire librarians
- 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
- Identity crisis? No. Or why I think we need to move beyond “stealth librarianship.”
- Stealth librarianship or just good librarianship?
- “User Services” … or helping people in an academic library
- Some Great Thoughts On Librarianship
- Bibliothéconomie furtive