The implications of Knowledge Management for the LIS professions

Abstract: The present thesis attempts to describe the Knowledge Management (KM) field in terms of its relevance to the Library & Information Science (LIS) professions. The methodology employed was a combination of qualitative and quantitative approaches including administration of a web-based survey and the conduct of in-depth interviews targeted at LIS professionals.

The results emerging from the research revealed very positive feedback from the LIS community in regard to attitudes towards KM. Not only did LIS professionals consider KM to be a viable option but also, they saw positive implications for both individuals and the professions as a whole in terms of opportunities for new career options in KM. Their view of KM was broader than what would be encompassed by either librarianship or information management. This was clear from the breadth of their perspectives, which extended to the consideration of such aspects as intangibles and human capital. LIS professionals regard their skills as being relevant to the practice of KM. Although they believed that KM was essentially a management phenomenon, they also believed that it was a field in which LIS professionals should seek to extend their involvement. Evidence of such involvement reveals that LIS professionals in general, have been largely engaged in the information management side of KM.

Although LIS professionals were making a contribution to the general level of KM, their involvement in more senior positions tended to be a matter of exception rather than of rule. Only 3.5 per cent of all respondents to the questionnaire were operating as leaders of KM. Interviewing knowledge managers from a LIS background revealed that a number of personal attributes may have been significant to the success of this transition. These included a facility in human networking, and an appreciation of the value of lifelong learning, along with ambition and a willingness to take risks. The possession of a non-LIS qualification along with their LIS qualification was also characteristic of people holding senior roles in KM.

Although the LIS professionals agreed that libraries could make a strong case to be the launching point for KM initiatives, they did not support the argument that libraries should be the leaders of KM in their organizations. To some extent this has been a matter of competence, and also of the traditionally unflattering image of libraries. This has in some cases led to name changes and the reorganization of functions.

Among the implications of these results for LIS professionals would be the need to extend their focus from one based on information objects to one based on people aspects, to adopt a holistic view of their organizations, and to increase their levels of business knowledge.

The contribution of LIS professionals to KM potentially can be enhanced through developments in education for LIS. Extending the LIS curriculum to include business and management subjects and also the promotion of personal attributes, could not only equip LIS professionals with the necessary capabilities, but also could give them the confidence to apply these capabilities in the marketplace

Author(s): Maryam Sarrafzadeh is a research candidate at the RMIT University School of Business Information Technology

Contents:

  • Introduction
  • Literature Review
  • Research Methodology
  • Findings
  • Conclusion and Implications
  • References
  • Appendices

Maryam Sarrafzadeh: The implications of knowledge management for the library and information professions. Melbourne: RMIT University, School of Business Information Technology (PhD Thesis), 2008, 265 pages

Copyright © RMIT University.

Related PhD thesis:

  • Hazeri Baghdadabad, A 2008, The implications of knowledge management for library and information science education: a mixed method investigation, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Business Information Technology, RMIT University. Full text from publisher »

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