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2 International Symposium on “Emerging Trends and Technologies in Libraries and Information Services” - Conference Proceedings – May 3-4, 2010

Knowledge Management and Libraries



Somvir Rathee* Sudha Kaushik

ABSTRACT the difference between information management and knowledge


The development of knowledge management in recent years has management; who should be in charge of information and
become most important for librarians and libraries. In this paper knowledge management; would librarians and information
the authors review the development of knowledge management. professionals with appropriate education and training in library
The comparison is discussed in this paper between information and and information science be most suitable for the position of “Chief
knowledge as well as between information management and Information Officer” (CIO) in their organizations; and what
knowledge management. The paper highlights the role of libraries/ libraries can do in implementing knowledge management.
librarians in knowledge management and authors suggest that
librarians/libraries should be in charge of knowledge management
2. INFORMATION vs KNOWLEDGE
According to Daniel Bell knowledge is “a set of organized
in their respective organizations to leverage the intellectual assets
statements of facts or ideas, presenting a reasoned judgment or an
and to facilitate knowledge creation in the digital and knowledge
experimental result, which is transmitted to others through some
era.
communication medium in some systematic form.”[1] For
Information Marc Porat states, “Information is data that has been
Keywords organized and communicated.”[2] Below are simple definitions of
Information, Knowledge, Wisdom, Rise of KM, Function of KM, Information, Knowledge, and Wisdom—all of them are available
Process of KM, KM among Libraries, Knowledge Resource within every organization:
Management, HRM .
• Information: Selected, organized and analyzed data.
1. INTRODUCTION
In the last decade of the 20th century a new concept is • Knowledge: Information combined with user’s ability and
popularized titled “Knowledge Management” in the business experience that is used to solve a problem or to create new
world. It was the business world that first recognizes the knowledge.
importance of knowledge in the “global economy” of the
“knowledge age”. In the new knowledge economy, the possession • Wisdom: Forward looking and thinking based on one’s
of relevant and strategic knowledge and its unceasing renewal values and commitment.
enables businesses to gain competitive advantage. The applications
of knowledge management have now spread to other organizations The differences between information and knowledge can be
including government agencies, research and development summarized as:
departments, universities, and others.
• Information is visible, independent from action and decision,
Librarians and information professionals must be trained and different in format after processing, physical product,
experts in information searching, selecting, acquiring, organizing, independent from existing environment, easily transferable,
preserving, repackaging, disseminating, and serving. Now in IT and duplicable.
and knowledge age, the positions of “Chief Information Officer”
(CIO) in many organizations are generally held by information • Knowledge is invisible, closely related to action and
technologists instead of librarians. In fact, most of the work of decision, different in thought after processing, spiritual
CIOs has to do with developing and managing the IT infrastructure product, identified with existing environment, transferable
and systems, not just the managing of information. through learning, and not duplicable.
As the interest is growing in knowledge management among In the business world, Explicit Knowledge and Tacit Knowledge
librarians, many questions have been raised in their minds are noted. This set of knowledge can be applied to all other human
regarding: the difference between information and knowledge; endeavors and intellectual activities. Explicit knowledge may be
______________________________________________ defined as “knowledge that is documented and public; structured,
*Assistant Librarian, PDM College of Engineering, Sarai, fixed-content, externalized, and conscious” while Tacit Knowledge
Aurangabad, Bahadurgarh, Haryana - 124507 is “personal, undocumented knowledge; context-sensitive,
Email: somvirrathee@yahoo.co.in [Corresponding Author] dynamically-created and derived, internalized, and experience-
based; often resides in the human mind, behavior, and
† Librarian, PDM College of Engineering, Sarai, Aurangabad,
perception.”[3]
Bahadurgarh, Haryana,- 124507
Email: sudhakaushik2@gmail.com

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2 International Symposium on “Emerging Trends and Technologies in Libraries and Information Services” - Conference Proceedings – May 3-4, 2010

3. THE RISE OF KNOWLEDGE Jan Duffy defines knowledge management as “a process that
drives innovation by capitalizing on organizational intellect and
MANAGEMENT experience.”[8] Gartner Group defines it as “a discipline that
In today’s movement towards knowledge management, promotes an integrated and collaborative approach to the process
organizations are trying to best leverage their knowledge internally of information asset creation, capture, organization, access and
in the organization and externally to their customers and use.”[9]
stakeholders. They are trying to capitalize on their organizational
intelligence to maintain their competitive edge.[4] 4. FUNCTIONS OF KNOWLEDGE
The thrust of knowledge management is to create a process of MANAGEMENT
valuing the organization’s intangible assets in order to best Basic function of KM is providing the right information to right
leverage knowledge internally and externally. Knowledge user at the right time. Some other basic functions of KM are as:
management, therefore, deals with creating, securing, capturing,
coordinating, combining, retrieving, and distributing knowledge. • Externalization uses technologies to capture knowledge and
The idea is to create a knowledge sharing environment whereby store it online e.g. imaging systems and databases. Actually
sharing knowledge is power as opposed to the old adage that, it is a process of capturing knowledge in depository and
simply, knowledge is power. organizing it according to classification framework.
In recent era “knowledge” is replacing land, labor, capital,
machines, etc. to become the chief source of production. In 90s • Internalization is a process of extracting knowledge from
decade Ikujiro Nonaka raised the concept of “tacit” knowledge and external repositories and filtering it to identify what is
“explicit” knowledge as well as the theory of “spiral of relevant to knowledge seeker.
knowledge” in the Harvard Business Review that the time of
“knowledge-based competition” finally came.[5] • Cognition is application of knowledge that has been
exchanged through the proceeding three functions and
3.1 Definitions: ultimate goal of knowledge management.
Because knowledge management is still a relatively new concept
and viewed differently by different writers from different focuses, • Intermediation: It matches knowledge seeker with the best
its definitions vary. According to Rowley, Jennifer “Knowledge source of knowledge available by tracking the experiences
management is concerned with the exploitation and development and interests of individuals. The intermediation can link
of the knowledge assets of an organization with a view to people who need knowledge with the people who apprised
furthering the organization’s objectives. The knowledge to be to have knowledge in that area.
managed includes both explicit, documented knowledge, and tacit,
subjective knowledge. Management entails all of those processes 4.1 Processes of Knowledge Management
associated with the identification, sharing and creation of The current scope and contents of knowledge management can
knowledge. This requires systems for the creation and maintenance generally understand from both the project perspectives and the
of knowledge repositories, and to cultivate and facilitate the operational processes mentioned below.[10]
sharing of knowledge and organizational learning. Organizations • Generating new knowledge.
that succeed in knowledge management are likely to view • Accessing knowledge from external sources.
knowledge as an asset and to develop organizational norms and
• Representing knowledge in documents, databases, software
values, which support the creation and sharing of knowledge.” [6] and so forth.
There are the four different types of perspectives on knowledge • Embedding knowledge in processes, products, or services.
management identified by Thomas H. Davenport et al.[7] These are: • Transferring existing knowledge around an organization.
• Using accessible knowledge in decision-making.
1. To create knowledge repositories, which store both • Facilitating knowledge growth through culture and
knowledge and information, often in documentary form. incentives.
• Measuring the value of knowledge assets and the impact of
2. To improve knowledge access and transfer. Here the
knowledge management.
emphasis is on connectivity, access and transfer.
Technologies such as video conferencing systems, 5. KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT AMONG
document scanning and sharing tools and LIBRARIES
telecommunications networks are central. The business world is changing in the new knowledge economy
and digital age and simultaneously all types of libraries are under
3. To enhance the knowledge environment so that the going drastic changes. The new role of libraries in the 21st century
environment is conducive to more effective knowledge must be a learning and knowledge center for their users as well as
creation, transfer and use. This involves tackling the intellectual commons for their respective communities where,
organizational norms and values as they relate to people and ideas interact in both the real and virtual environments
knowledge. to expand learning and facilitate the creation of new knowledge.
4. To manage knowledge as an asset and to recognize the Libraries are working as a learning organization, and they
value of knowledge to an organization. should provide a strong leadership in knowledge management.
Unlike those business organizations whose goal for knowledge
management is for competitive advantage, most public, academic,

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2 International Symposium on “Emerging Trends and Technologies in Libraries and Information Services” - Conference Proceedings – May 3-4, 2010

and research libraries, with the exception of company libraries, resources as well as printed and other formats of knowledge.
have a different orientation and value. The most important mission Library professionals should regularly search and select the useful
of public, academic, and research libraries is to expand the access websites and knowledge sources from the Internet and include in
of knowledge for their users, instead of competition, internal use OPACs by hard links. A system for the reviewing and updating of
only, and little sharing of knowledge with others outside. Libraries these resources should be performed. The traditional, time-honored
should aim their knowledge management goal high. methods of cataloging and classification are inadequate to deal
with the almost infinite amount of digital information in large
5.1 Role of Librarians in KM electronic databases and on the Internet. Using the Dublin Core
Librarians work in administration, collection management metadata and the Cooperative Online Resources Catalog (CORC)
reference or technical services etc. In this way they work as: has been a new approach to capture Web information by
• Knowledge Management developers cooperative efforts. Other new methods such as data mining, text
mining, content management, search engines, spidering programs,
• Knowledge Management educators natural language searching, linguistic analysis, semantic networks,
• Knowledge Management researchers knowledge extraction, concept yellow pages, and such techniques
in information visualization as two-dimensional or three-
• Knowledge Management integrators dimensional knowledge mapping, etc. have been a part of recent
As a knowledge manager, Librarian should be able to organize developments in knowledge management systems.
the multiple pieces of information by collection of books, The web site of each library should serve as a portal for all
publications, documents, audio-visual aids, databases in computer sources of selective and relevant knowledge and information
and other reference materials to provide the Right Knowledge, In whether explicit or tacit, whether on site or remote, and in all
Right Place, and At the Right Time in a systematic way. They formats. The term “portal” has been defined by Michael Looney
should be able to extract, filter and disseminate vital knowledge and Peter Lyman as “a means of gathering a variety of useful
and work side by side with users in collecting and analyzing information resources into a single, one-stop Web page, helping
strategic intelligence.[11] the user to avoid being overwhelmed by infoglut or feeling lost on
the Web.”[12]
5.2 Information Technology Development
A well-designed and operational knowledge management system In the current digital and networked knowledge age, the size of
should be in place to implement the knowledge management. To information resources on the Web is growing exponentially. No
design and develop such a system, in this regard, the library one really knows exactly how many Web pages are on the Internet
director should consider him/her self as the chief knowledge because new Web pages are added every second. The statistics of
officer of the entire organization and should work together with the Internet hosts numbered close to two billion and is growing fast at
CIO, heads of the planning department, the computer and the speed of 25% from 1/2001 to 1/2002.[13] Most of the frequently
information technology center, the human resources management used Internet search engines have also expanded their index sizes
department, the finance department, etc. Latest information by leaps and bounds. For examples, according to the November
technology should be used as an enabler. To facilitate the capture, 11, 2004 report of the Search Engine Watch, Google claimed to
analysis, organization, storage, and sharing of internal and external have indexed 8.1 billion Web pages; MSN: 5.0 billion Web pages;
information resources for effective knowledge exchange among Yahoo: 4.2 billion Web pages; and Ask Reeves: 2.5 billion Web
users, resource persons, publishers, government agencies, pages.[14] In a 1999 study by Lawrence and Giles, each search
businesses and industries, and other organizations via multiple engine may cover only 15% of the Web resources at any given
channels and layers, such a knowledge management system should time. Combined coverage of search engines is estimated at 42
be built on existing computer and information technology percent of the relevant resources.[15] For greatly enriched
infrastructures, including upgraded intranet, extranet, and Internet, knowledge resources, improved user services, and the more
and available software programs. In recent years, many of the efficient use of knowledge for creation and decision-making, many
newly developed information technologies for database and new knowledge management systems are under development and
information/document management, such as, data warehousing, testing.
data mining, text mining, content management, knowledge
extraction, knowledge mapping, groupware, and information 5.4 Resources Sharing and Networking
visualization, etc. can be utilized in knowledge management. Libraries have a long tradition of resources sharing and
networking and these have been greatly expanded by the rapid
5.3 Knowledge Resources Management development of computer, telecommunication, networking, and
Restricted by limited funds, technologies, staff and space digital technologies since the 1960s. In the U.S. it is very common
libraries must carefully analyze the needs of their users and for libraries to be a member of several consortia at the same time
acquisition plans to meet these needs. Libraries should develop for various types of cooperative work and resources sharing. The
their resources access and sharing strategies from printed to best examples of these are the OCLC Online Computer Library
electronic and digital resources in concert with their mission and Center and OhioLINK (Ohio Library and Information Network).
charges keeping in view the exponential growth in human With the full cooperation and participation of all member libraries
knowledge in a variety of formats. The concept of “access” and without selfishness, the successes can be achieved by the libraries
“just in time” should be the goal of a sound resources development in resources sharing and networking.[16] Large and major libraries
strategy, instead of “ownership” and “just in time”. must take the lead in such an endeavor. Supports in policies and
funding from the government or parent organizations are also
An integrated online public access catalog (OPAC) should be
critically important.
developed and maintained with both internal and external

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2 International Symposium on “Emerging Trends and Technologies in Libraries and Information Services” - Conference Proceedings – May 3-4, 2010

5.5 User services 6. CONCLUSION


The utmost goal of knowledge management is to provide a In business world, to gain a competitive advantage among
variety of quality services to improve the communication, use and competitors, to add value to products, and to win greater
creation of knowledge with users. As much as possible these satisfaction from customers, knowledge management has been
services should be tailored to the interest and needs of each user. regarded as strategically important for any organization. In the
By analyzing the records of user registration, surveys, circulation library world, there is a lesson to be learned from the business
and interlibrary loans, frequently asked reference questions, and world. Knowledge management is as important for libraries as for
the use of e-journal and digital resources, etc. information can be the businesses organizations. In fact, libraries have had a long and
obtained about each user. User satisfaction and needs should be rich experience in the management of information. Many of such
collected through periodic users’ surveys. The findings should be knowledge and skills of librarianship can be applied to knowledge
used for the planning and redesign of library services. In all this, it management. A strong leadership and vision from the top
is very important, that user’s privacy should always be protected. administration is required, which can influence the organization’s
By employing the “push technology” with great efficiency and knowledge sharing efforts in a positive way for the success of
convenience, some services such as “new publication alert” and implementation of knowledge management. As libraries enter the
“selective dissemination of information,” can now be done knowledge age, we should be in the driver’s seat with our
automatically, which libraries have been providing. Each library professional knowledge and experiences; instead we should take a
user can also set up his/her virtual “MyLibrary” enabled by library back seat in the development of knowledge management.
systems and networks for collecting and organizing resources for Information technology and systems provide effective support in
personal use and to stay informed of new resources provided by implementation of knowledge management. Librarians should
the library.[17] The Library and Information Technology work together with IT professionals and others to develop the
Association (LITA) has defined MyLibrary-like services as the appropriate knowledge management systems. Furthermore,
number one trend “worth keeping an eye on.” It further stated that knowledge management should never be viewed as a way to
“Library users who are Web users, a growing group, expect control the process of knowledge creation. Knowledge creation is
customization, interactivity, and customer support. Approaches best performed by universities, research centers and the best
that are library-focused instead of user-focused will be increasingly knowledge creators are academics. As a learning and knowledge
irrelevant.”[18] organization, it is now time for libraries to situate themselves in
the central stage of knowledge management as a leading player.
5.6 Human Resources Management
The knowledge and accumulated experiences of library staff 7. REFERENCES
members form the intellectual assets of any library, should be [1] Bell, Daniel. The Coming of Post-industrial Society: A
valued and shared. An organizational culture for sharing of Venture in Social Forecasting. New York: Basic Books.
knowledge and expertise should be established with appropriate [2] Porat, Marc.The Information Economy: Definition and
rewards and incentives. Staff members should be appropriately Measurement. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of
recognized and rewarded, who share their tacit knowledge and Commerce, Office of Telecommunications.
experiences through writing, publishing, lecturing, tutoring, or
mentoring. Due to the great amount of expert knowledge is [3] Duffy, Jan Duffy. (2000). “Knowledge Management: To Be
possessed by library staff and users, both in and outside the or Not to Be?” Information Management Journal 34,no.1:64-
libraries, in university and research communities such expertise 67.
should be inventoried, indexed, and updated regularly and be made [4] Liebowitz, Jay. Building Organizational Intelligence: A
searchable and accessible through electronic databases created and Knowledge Management Primer. Boca Raton, FL: CRC
maintained by libraries. A strong leadership and commitment from Press.
the library director and a shared vision by the library staff can
[5] Nonaka, Ikujiro. (1991). “The Knowledge-Creating
establish a culture in organization which emphasizes cooperation,
Company,” Harvard Business Review (Nov.-Dec. 1991):96-
sharing, and innovation. To provide continuing education and staff
99. Also, Nonaka, Ikujiro and Takeuchi, Hirotaka. (1995).
training to all staff members, libraries should allocate annual
The Knowledge-creating Company: How Japanese
funding because they work as a learning organization, Knowledge
Companies Create the Dynamics of Innovation. New York:
must be renewed and expanded to prevent it from becoming
Oxford University Press.
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[6] Rowley, Jennifer. (1999). “What is Knowledge
The transfer of knowledge and experience from experienced
Management?” Library Management 20,no.8:416-419.
staff to new staff members should be encouraged by the libraries.
A system should be in place to help newcomers to learn from [7] Davenport, Thomas H. and others. “Successful Knowledge
experienced library staff. Informal seminars and brownbag Management Projects,” Sloan Management Review
sessions, where staff can interact and exchange their experience [8] Duffy,Jan. (1999). Harvesting Experience: Reaping the
and knowledge, should be scheduled at regular intervals and at Benefits of Knowledge. Prairie Village, KS: ARMA
convenient times. Special interest groups and chat rooms should be International. Also from her article, “Knowledge
developed through intranet. Libraries should pay attention to Management: To Be or Not to Be?” Information
favorable working conditions and environment, which will Management Journal 34,no. 1:64-67.
contribute to better staff retention.

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2 International Symposium on “Emerging Trends and Technologies in Libraries and Information Services” - Conference Proceedings – May 3-4, 2010

[9] Bair, Jim. (1999). “Knowledge Management is About


Cooperation and Context,” Gartner Advisory Services
Research Note (May 14).
[10] Galagan, P. (1997). “Smart Companies (Knowledge
Management),” Training and Development 51,no.12: 20-25.
[11] ‘10th Annual National Convention of MANLIBNET on
organizational excellence in business and management
libraries: current trends and future directions January 22-24,
2009’. In Deepa, T. and Sumitra, S (Eds), Implication of
Knowledge Management in Libraries (pp.93-94).
Bhubaneswar: KIIT University.
[12] Looney, Michael and Lyman, Peter. “Portals in Higher
Education: What are They, and What is Their Potential?”
EDUCAUSE Review. Available online from
http://www.educause.edu/pub/er/erm00/article004/looney.pdf
[13] http://www.isc.org/index.pl?/ops/ds/host-count-history.php
[14] http://blog.searchenginewatch.com/blog/041111-084221
[15] Lawrence, S. and Giles, C.L. (1999). “Accessibility of
Information on the Web,” Nature 400:107-109.
[16] http://www.worlib.org
[17] Cohen, Suzanne and others, “Personalized Electronic
Services in the Cornell University Libraries,” D-Lib
Magazine 6, no.4:1-2. Available online from
http://www.dlib.org/dlib/april00/mistlebauer/04mistlebauer.
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[18] “Technology and Library Users: LITA Experts Identify
Trends to Watch,” Available from
http://www.lita.org/committe/toptech/trendsmw99.htm

Somvir & Sudha Kaushik