Stealth librarianship or just good librarianship?

I’ve heard about stealth librarianship and the manifesto associated with it. Kendra’s  post over at Library Attack about stealth librarianship got me thinking about it again. I’ve read a few posts on stealth librarianship, including John’s original post and Andrew’s call to ninja librarianship, which has some good modifications to John’s manifesto. I do agree that librarians, especially libraries that promote specific subject expertise, should be involved with and engaged in their subject communities. This is not necessarily new concept (I know it’s something both my colleagues and I practice) – a point Kendra raises quite well (among others).

My question is whether this really needs to be termed as stealth librarianship? Using this term,  it seems more sneaky and underhanded than it needs to be. I don’t think quietly infiltrating is the right answer – and I know this isn’t exactly where the manifesto is going – but then why call it stealth librarianship? There is nothing wrong with proudly representing your profession among those who can value your expertise.

These thoughts may be coming on the heels of the HarperCollins affair – we’re being loud and clear in our dislike with the present circumstances (though again, we seem to be in the reactionary position). Maybe it’s our raised voices that’s making me think negatively about the “stealth” aspect of the manifesto.

Regardless, being involved in our communities – both librarian and user – is the essential thing. And isn’t that just plain good librarianship?


About theweelibrarian

Liaison Librarian extraordinaire! Interests in libraries and technology, virtual worlds, gov pubs, fun and chocolate.
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2 Responses to Stealth librarianship or just good librarianship?

  1. AC says:

    I think John’s gone and done exactly what he intended – stirred up the nest a bit. Do we need a manifesto? No, not really. Is it really about being stealthy, no it’s not that either. Are we talking more about engaging our user groups on their turf – absolutely, and that’s the important part.

    I guess ‘good’ librarianship is really about discovering and meeting user needs and expectations, and there’s many ways to do that. It’s easy, though, to stay at home and guess. It’s harder to venture forth and find out.

  2. It’s true and I think both you and John raise good points. As I say, I think it’s because of the recent raising of voices that I started thinking about this again. The important thing is to engage with our users and we’re not all as great at it as we’d like to believe. I think we have started recognizing the issue, in part, through things like the manifesto.

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