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Expanding Enterprise Roles

It’s no surprise that modern librarians have to step into new roles—the possibilities are evolving and expanding. The discussion here at IL2009 was particularly timely, given the current ongoing heated discussion and upcoming vote for SLA to change its name to the Association for Strategic Knowledge Professionals, or ASKPro. (For the details, see the NewsBreak by Cindy Shamel,

Ruth Kneale asked the audience how many did and didn’t have librarian in their job titles—the result was about half and half. She is embedded as part of the engineering team at ATST. She says this is clearly where we need to be headed—to be part of the team. Another embedded corporate librarian is Jerry O’Connor-Fix, manager of strategic intelligence at Waters Corp. The company added a librarian to each product team—this increased awareness of the information center’s capabilities. The librarians developed individual information plans for the scientists on their teams—these have been extremely well received.

Tom Reamy’s consulting company uses librarians for his knowledge architecture projects. Knowledge architecture is an interdisciplinary field concerned with creating the infrastructure for the flow of knowledge throughout an organization. According to Tom, it’s library science + information architecture + cognitive science + history of ideas + ? It’s a bridge between KM and library science. It’s also a great avenue for librarians to expand their roles—to build on their core expertise.

Tom’s company, the KAPS Group, usually starts with a knowledge architecture audit. Knowledge architecture looks at 4 contexts of structure:

  • Ideas – content structure
  • People – company structure
  • Organizational activities, business processes, events, etc
  • Technology Layer – text analytics, taxonomy tools, etc

He described a case study where his team of several librarians worked with 2 librarians in a client company. He says they were essential to the project but needed to expand their skills.

Some of the lessons learned:

No single enterprise taxonomy – make it small and simple

Focus on user/usability (design for the novice and infrequent user)

There’s no right way to categorize – understand variations

Importance of using prototypes – measure of typicality

Focus on business activities – information behaviors

Learn key technologies, especially text analytics

Web 2.0 and folksonomies – “whatever the question, they are not the answer”

Paula J. Hane

ITI News Bureau Chief

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