Academic journal article Journal of Education for Library and Information Science

Integration of Knowledge Management with the Library and Information Science Curriculum: Some Professional Perspectives

Academic journal article Journal of Education for Library and Information Science

Integration of Knowledge Management with the Library and Information Science Curriculum: Some Professional Perspectives

Article excerpt

The growing recognition of the importance of knowledge management (KM) has led to calls for curriculum review in Library and Information Science (LIS). Drawing on the findings of a research project on the implications of KM for LIS education, this paper examines the focus of current LIS curricula in addressing KM and related concepts. This issue has been investigated from the viewpoint of the LIS community using a webbased survey, followed by in-depth interviews with 18 LIS heads of schools or senior staff at schools operating KM programs and courses. The findings indicate that there is considerable interest within the LIS community in expanding their curricula to include a stronger element of KM. Specifically, this includes the intensive coverage of knowledge in all its forms, and the inclusion of more organizational, business and management issues in the curriculum along with an emphasis on the practical dimensions of knowledge management.

Keywords: knowledge management (KM), education, library and information science (LIS), curriculum, survey


Education for Library and Information Science (LIS) has evolved over the years in line with overall developments within the profession. A key influence on curriculum development has been the field of information science, which along with advances in IT has permeated LIS education since the 1990s, leading to the redesign of many LIS courses and curricula. The need for fundamental revisions to respond to the demands of a dynamic workplace environment is reflected in the professional literature (Milne, 1999).

With recognition of the added value of knowledge in industry and society today, commentators have called for a response from LIS educators to ongoing changes in technology and the shift towards a knowledge economy (Milner, 1998). In response to this need, there is the observation within the literature that since the mid-1990s, librarian professional associations and the LIS schools have studied the future need for information professionals, the state of LIS curricula now, and how curricula should change in the future to meet new needs (Tenopir, 2002, Studies to Identify the Challenges section, para. 1).

KM Curricular Issues: Pointers from the Literature

The multi- faceted nature of KM has resulted in its adoption across a spectrum of disciplines, with competing claims to ownership. This is hardly unexpected in view of the importance of knowledge to so many professions. One result has been wide diversity in the design and implementation of KM programs including within LIS education (Chaudhry & Higgins, 2003; Hawamdeh et al., 2004). This diversity is linked to the fact that knowledge management is context- dependent. Indeed, Todd and Southon (2000) argue that the diversity of approaches reported from successful KM initiatives indicates that generic solutions are unlikely to be successful, and that relations between knowledge and knowledge processes and the nature of the organization, its function, its culture, its structure and position in the market, had to be considered when developing models or theoretical frameworks of knowledge management. Similarly, Amos and Chance (2001) observed that "The very nature of knowledge suggests that knowledge management is unique for every organization, and this will consequently be reflected in the future role of the professional" (p. 51). Lank (2004) called for course designers in an MBA program to teach practice not theory, and to encourage people to develop knowledge processes that worked for their organizations and the people within them. The flavor of the KM curriculum, therefore, will be different from one place to another depending upon the setting or context (Ruth, Theobald, & Frizzell, 1999).

The educational need of students in different domains is also a justification for such diversity. "Institutions which are preparing people for roles in [KM] will need to be very flexible in the way that they act to best match the needs of the students with the opportunities of the marketplace, and the demands of the specific organizations in which they are working" (Todd & Southon, 2001, p. …

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