Knowledge management or KM is a trending topic within the law library world. While KM is typically implemented within a law firm, it can also be used within a law school or government law library. How can we apply this topic as academic librarians? First, let me start off by describing KM. KM is a sharing of knowledge through the use of a database. According to Law Librarianship in the Digital Age, KM is: “The leveraging of the organization’s collective wisdom (know-how) by creating systems and processes to support and facilitate the identification, capture, dissemination and use of the organization’s knowledge to meet its business objectives.” Stephen A. Lastres & Don MacLeod, “Knowledge Management,” in Law Librarianship in the Digital Age (Ellyssa Kroski, ed., 2014), at 390.
Most of us are already engaging in knowledge management without even knowing it. We currently track our reference statistics either manually or electronically. We gather this knowledge in an effort to see how we can better assist our users. Through this collection of knowledge, we can determine patterns and commonalities. We learn from these interactions and determine what we can improve upon.
Additionally, this tracking is used by the reference staff in learning how their colleagues answered challenging research questions. What resources did they use? What were the steps that they took? We then digest these steps and think about the ways in which we might have answered this request. We use this information in any effort to learn from each other and gather more “tools” for our tool belt to better assist the next user. Through this reference tracking, we are creating a knowledge management database for the library. Perhaps we can think of ways of sharing this information outside of the library. For example, we could turn these statistics and common questions into a helpful LibGuide for our users.
LibGuides are another way we are currently sharing knowledge. Many of us create guides based on common issues or topics of the law in which are users (students/faculty) will actively engage. This is a database of knowledge based upon our expertise. Plus, this is another way the library becomes a service rather than a space, reaching our users through yet another platform.
The benefits and possibilities of KM are endless. I look forward to seeing all of the ways we use knowledge management within an academic setting. This is a unique opportunity for us to share useful information with our users in an effort to better meet their growing needs.