World Class Knowledge Services: Toward World-Class Knowledge Services: Emerging Trends in Specialized Research Libraries Part One: The Management Perspective

By Clair, Guy St.; Harriston, Victoria et al. | Information Outlook, June 2003 | Go to article overview

World Class Knowledge Services: Toward World-Class Knowledge Services: Emerging Trends in Specialized Research Libraries Part One: The Management Perspective


Clair, Guy St., Harriston, Victoria, Pellizzi, Thomas A., Information Outlook


Knowledge-Centric Organizations

SUCCESSFUL MODERN ORGANIZATIONS ARE, BY DEFINITION, KNOWLEDGE-CENTRIC. In these organizations, the business of the enterprise takes place in an environment in which employees conduct research and make decisions or develop products based on the results of that research. To achieve its institutional mission, the knowledge-centric organization also employs a coterie of knowledge workers: librarians, content managers, staff development specialists, archivists, records managers, information technology professionals, and others. Their job is to work with information, knowledge, and learning, as professionals and on a full-time basis, to see that the critical elements that support the successful transfer of information and knowledge are well managed.

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Successful modern organizations are, by definition, knowledge-centric. In these organizations, the business of the enterprise takes place in an environment in which employees conduct research and make decisions or develop products based on the results of that research. To achieve its institutional mission, the knowledge-centric organization also employs a coterie of knowledge workers: librarians, content managers, staff development specialists, archivists, records managers, information technology professionals, and others. Their job is to work with information, knowledge, and learning, as professionals and on a full-time basis, to see that the critical elements that support the successful transfer of information and knowledge are well managed.

Knowledge services is the term used to describe the management practice that provides the theoretical, intellectual, and philosophical foundation on which this success is built. In the knowledge-centric organization, knowledge services include the following:

* information management--the organizational methodology that is concerned with the acquisition, arrangement, storage, retrieval, and use of information to produce knowledge;

* knowledge management--the management practice that helps an enterprise manage explicit, tacit, and cultural information in order to reuse the information and, when appropriate, create new knowledge; and

* strategic (performance-centered) learning--the achievement of skills, competencies, knowledge, behaviors, and other outcomes required for excellence in workplace performance.

In knowledge-centric organizations, specialized research libraries are expected to offer services that are characterized as "world-class." What does this characterization mean?

A world-class specialized research library is one that provides a borderless service in which the library is a function (and not always necessarily a place or a physical location) where information can be sought from wherever it exists, to be used immediately by local or remote customers. When we speak of "the world-class specialized research library," we mean libraries that offer specialized, mission-specific services of the highest caliber, however library service is measured and judged in that kind of organization. In many cases, we are speaking of a library/information center/knowledge center that embraces knowledge services as its own management approach for achieving its specific mission. It also offers--it almost goes without saying--an approach to knowledge services that meets the highest standards upon which the organization, its management, its library staff, and its library's users have agreed.

When we seek to describe the world-class specialized research library, another connotation comes to mind. In today's management milieu, information management, knowledge management, and strategic learning are all connected to the larger, societal globalization that is affecting all our lives. It is now well established that the attention given to acknowledging and dealing with the global society--our modern international focus--affects all efforts in the workplace and provides an even stronger reason for research organizations to seek the highest levels of service delivery. …

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