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Insights and articles related to knowledge management, information security, technology, data and analytics, business process automation, platform management, and other related topics, from our experienced team of consultants.

Connections between KM and Library Science

On the surface, Knowledge Management (KM) and library science/information management may not seem like natural partners, but there are tons of connections between the two.
Abby Clobridge

Abby Clobridge

Abby Clobridge is the founder of FireOak Strategies. She works with clients around the world to enhance how organizations manage, secure, and share their knowledge. You can reach Abby at [email protected].

On the surface, Knowledge Management (KM) and library science/information management may not seem like natural partners. And while I might be biased since my background is in library/information science, I think the linkages between the two areas are clear.

Library/information science is about connecting people with the information they need. Knowledge management is a little less clear cut. With knowledge management, we’re trying to connect people to information, data, or knowledge — whether knowledge is in someone’s head or in an explicit, searchable, organized format. In either case, the general concept is the same: we’re trying to link people with ideas, expertise, information, and knowledge. 

Following are three ways in which KM and library science are closely connected. 

1. It’s about asking the right questions.

One of the main elements of librarianship is learning how to ask questions and then interpreting answers to determine exactly what someone is looking for and why. For instance: 

  • What’s your goal, or what do you want to do with that information once we find it? 
  • How do you plan to use it? 
  • Is this a one-time question or something with long-term applications?
  • Are you going to need to re-use this information in multiple ways?
  • How are you going to store this information for the long term? Does long-term storage matter in this case?

All of these questions need to be considered and their answers interpreted in order to best connect someone with the information or knowledge he/she is trying to obtain.

2. Information management is applicable to all fields — even the most technical, specialized areas.

Most subject-matter experts (SMEs) know a single field in depth. Information management practitioners fit this framework, but our skill set applies to any and all subjects. We know how to find, collect, organize, disseminate, curate, and preserve data, information, and knowledge — regardless of subject matter.

3. Curation is critically important. 

Curation — the art of collecting, organizing, showcasing, and preserving artifacts — has been a staple of the profession since the Library of Alexandria. 

But in today’s swampland of digital information, it’s more important than ever to have processes in place to highlight key new knowledge, new findings, announcements, news that’s important to your organization.

 Helping individuals make sense of the mountain of knowledge surrounding them is critically important, yet it is an often-overlooked responsibility within the workplace. 

Realistically, if your organization’s approach is that “we are all digital curators,” the reality is that no one is filling this need in a consistent, systematic way. Curation work is closely aligned with the work librarians and archivists have been performing for centuries. 

Read more about curation and knowledge management:

This article was originally published on March 9, 2013 but was updated in February of 2021.

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