An emphasis on knowledge, skills and creativity and on the capturing and sharing of information, are all issues that impact upon how people are managed. In many organisations responsibility for these activities is often focused within a specialist or a department. Over the past few years there has been an increasing interest from Library and Information (L&I) specialists in the area of knowledge management and the contribution they can make both individually and as a profession.
This has been reflected in the conferences and publications of the L&I Professionals world over. For L&I specialists there are no particular hurdles to overcome to make a contribution. Knowledge management is itself a multi-disciplinary area and it is necessary for L&I specialists to work with other disciplines, often having to develop new skills and understanding (particularly in the area of technology). L&I specialists, unlike HR specialist do not have the conflict inherent in reconciling seeing people as a cost to be controlled and as an asset to be developed.
A key role for L&I specialists is to help bridge the gap between what people know – the information and expertise that are available to them – and what they do. In the knowledge economy, it is what people do with their knowledge that is the driver for competitive advantage rather than the investment in information systems, intranets, and electronic communications. Effective knowledge management is not possible in an environment where people are disenchanted, de-motivated and demoralised.