Knowledge management for librarians…

A paper by Michael Koenig, KM moves beyond the organization: the opportunity for librarians was originally presented to the IFLA conference in 2005. Kingo Mchombu, one of the authors of this blog, has identified is as a key ‘must read’ reference for our work.

In this paper, Koenig argues that:

KM is no ordinary management fad – first, it has legs, it is not fading away, and second it clearly is relevant to and overlaps greatly with librarianship.

Despite the overlap with librarianship, librarians have done comparatively poorly on capitalizing on that overlap. The KM movement has gone through a number of stages, and it is now moving into a stage of recognizing the importance of and incorporating information and knowledge external to the parent organization. Such information and knowledge has always been the province of the librarian, and this development presents obvious and important opportunities for the field of librarianship, particularly in the area of the organization’s KM system design.

For those of working in the development field, this has obvious parallels because the wider development knowledge system is also relevant to us. This reminds me of an important paper published by Giulio Quagiotto in the Knowledge Management for Development Journal. In Elective affinities: reflections on the enduring appeal of knowledge management in the development sector, Giulio argues that whilst the knowledge management fad seems to have passed its peak in the private sector, within the context of international development organisations, the appeal of the discipline seems to endure because of its relevance to development. However, Julie Ferguson and I argue in a soon to be published chapter that KM is so relevant to development that there was even a home-grown, development approach to knowledge management, enshrined in the agricultural knowledge and information systems (AKIS) approach, developed by Niels Roling, Paul Engel and others. AKIS pre-dates the current mainstream approach to knowledge management.