Ask GovLoop on Knowledge – Knowledge Management in Libraries

While the business world is changing in the new knowledge economy and digital age, libraries of all types are undergoing drastic changes also. The new role of libraries in the 21st century needs to be as a learning and knowledge center for their users as well as the intellectual commons for their respective communities where, to borrow the phrase from the Keystone Principles, “people and ideas interact in both the real and virtual environments to expand learning and facilitate the creation of new knowledge.”

As a learning organization, libraries should provide a strong leadership in knowledge management. Unlike those business organizations whose goal for knowledge management is for competitive advantage, most public, academic, and research libraries, with the exception of company libraries (which may be known or called corporate libraries, special libraries, or knowledge centers), have a different orientation and value. Instead of competition, internal use only, and little sharing of knowledge with others outside, the most important mission of public, academic, and research libraries is to expand the access of knowledge for their users. Charged by this mission, libraries should aim their knowledge management goal high.

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Daniel Bevarly

Lisa –

Agree. I believe the key points are to serve “as a learning and knowledge center” as you state. Libraries also have an important role to play in advancing civic engagement and public participation. With governments’ growing use of the Internet to provide information and to communicate with citizens (some more sophisticated than others), libraries provide the resource and hardware to make that connection.

To that end, libraries can serve as the public comment centers for their local (and state) governments. I recall an early example of this working with an alderman of an inner city district who held her town hall meeting at the library to discuss public improvements that were happening in her ward. Since the agency was accepting online comments, at the conclusion of her meeting the alderman asked her constituents (many who did not have access to computers in their homes) to use the library’s computers to submit comments as well as use it as a source to follow the improvement projects.