Originally published July 22, 2022

Stan Garfield

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This book is about knowledge management in special libraries and information centers, structured around Five Cs: Capture, Curate, Connect, Collaborate, and Create. These five calls to action, presented with detailed examples, provide special librarians and other information specialists with a new way to think about content, products, and services. The fundamentals of knowledge management — applied in a special library or information center setting — benefit the parent organization by offering clear strategic advantage and benefits.

Readers of this book will learn how and why incorporating knowledge management fundamentals into special library and information center products and services supports departmental and professional sustainability.

Resources

  1. The Five Cs of KM: Capture, Part 1 — Basics
  2. The Five Cs of KM: Capture, Part 2 — Content
  3. The Five Cs of KM: Capture, Part 3 — Information
  4. The Five Cs of KM: Capture, Part 4 — Input
  5. The Five Cs of KM: Curate, Part 1 — Search Results
  6. The Five Cs of KM: Curate, Part 2 — FAQs
  7. The Five Cs of KM: Curate, Part 3 — Online Discussions and What Else to Curate
  8. The Five Cs of KM: Curate, Part 4 — How to Curate
  9. The Five Cs of KM: Connect, Part 1 — People to People
  10. The Five Cs of KM: Connect, Part 2 — People to Content
  11. The Five Cs of KM: Connect, Part 3— Content to Content
  12. The Five Cs of KM: Connect, Part 4— External Users
  13. The Five Cs of KM: Collaborate, Part 1— Use Cases
  14. The Five Cs of KM: Collaborate, Part 2— Teams
  15. The Five Cs of KM: Collaborate, Part 3— Communities
  16. The Five Cs of KM: Collaborate, Part 4— Working Out Loud
  17. The Five Cs of KM: Create Part 1 — Basics, Connection, and Methods
  18. The Five Cs of KM: Create, Part 2 — Ideas and White Papers
  19. The Five Cs of KM: Create, Part 3— Analysis
  20. The Five Cs of KM: Create, Part 4— Actions and Example
  • View the recordings of my webinar series:
  • Read my Gartner Comparison series:
  1. KM in the Key of C
  2. Exploring the 7 Cs
  3. Commonality
  4. Contrasts

Excerpts

Dedication

For my grandchildren, Julian Lewis Kahlscheuer, Noah David Kahlscheuer, Sommer Farrell Garfield, and Kieran Julius Garfield. They represent my hope for a better future.

Kieran, Julian, Sommer, and Noah

Acknowledgements

I would like to thank Lucidea for suggesting this book and publishing it. Their ongoing commitment to the professional development of the knowledge managers, librarians, and information professionals they support with products and services is a true differentiator, and I am very pleased to partner with them in the effort. I would also like to thank my editor, Sarah Nichols, for her dedication, effort, and skill.

Table of Contents

Introduction VII

  • Trends in Special Libraries and Information Centers VII
  • The N Cs of Topic X VIII

Capture 1

  • Collection and Supply 2
  • Types of Content 3
  1. Documents 3
  2. Communications 3
  3. Training 5
  • Types of Information 6
  1. Personal Profiles 6
  2. Repositories 6
  3. Knowledge Bases 7
  • Types of Input 8
  1. Feedback 8
  2. Recommendations 8
  3. Stories 9
  • Example 10

Curate 12

  • Search Results 12
  • FAQs 14
  • Online Discussions 16
  • What Else to Curate 17
  • How to Curate 18
  • Examples 19

Connect 21

  • People to People 21
  1. Enterprise Social Networks (ESNs) 23
  2. Communities 23
  3. Expertise Locators 24
  • People to Content 26
  1. Navigation 26
  2. Search 28
  3. Tagging 31
  • Content to Content 32
  1. Taxonomy 32
  2. Thesaurus 33
  3. Links 34
  • External Users 34

Collaborate 36

  • Use Cases 36
  • Teams 39
  1. Team Spaces 39
  2. Group Chat 40
  3. Web Conferences 40
  4. Collaboration Process 41
  5. Example 42
  • Communities 42
  1. Threaded Discussions 43
  2. Wikis 44
  3. Events 45
  4. Principles, Keys to Success, and Actions 47
  • Working Out Loud 48

Create 50

  • Connection 51
  • Methods 52
  • Ideas 52
  • White Papers 53
  • Analysis 54
  1. Appreciative Inquiry 55
  2. Positive Deviance 56
  • Actions 56
  • Example 58

Conclusion 59

Appendix 60

Introduction

This book is about knowledge management in special libraries and information centers, structured around Five Cs: Capture, Curate, Connect, Collaborate, and Create. These calls to action, presented with detailed examples, provide special librarians and other information specialists with a new way to think about content, products, and services. The fundamentals of knowledge management — applied in a special library or information center setting — benefit the parent organization by offering clear strategic advantage and significant benefits.

Many special librarians have been working to reposition and repackage so-called traditional library skills as they anticipate and accommodate organizational and demographic change. They are best served by thinking about the next ways to deliver value using classic skills and expertise but seen through new filters. Considering what will be the next normal for special libraries makes sense. The increasing focus on virtual service and collaboration can benefit from applying both proven practices in special libraries and proven practices in knowledge management.

Readers of this book will learn how and why incorporating knowledge management fundamentals into special library and information center products and services supports departmental and professional sustainability.

Trends in Special Libraries and Information Centers

In an interview posted in Lucidea’s Think Clearly Blog, Dr. Lauren Hays asked Tara Murray Grove, “What trends are you seeing in special libraries?” Tara responded, “I’m seeing an expansion of the kinds of work special librarians and information professionals do, especially in terms of functional roles. These include digital asset management, taxonomy, data curation, and competitive intelligence, to name a few. Even librarians with more traditional job titles are changing the way they work, becoming embedded in projects, for example. Information work and expertise in organizations is not necessarily tied to a library space or information services department.”

Lauren then asked, “How are those trends impacting the resources and services offered by special librarians?” Tara replied, “As more databases and resources are available online with user-friendly interfaces, librarians no longer have to mediate access to physical collections or limited-access databases. Instead of managing access to limited information resources, we are now more often helping people make sense of overwhelming amounts of information and data. We are also more involved in the research process.”

This book addresses these trends and others from the field of knowledge management that will be increasingly important for special librarians and information specialists.

The N Cs of Topic X

I wrote a blog post called N Cs of topic X based on this very popular construct. I once defined 5 types of communities: Content-driven, Communicative, Collaborative, Conversational, and Comprehensive. An article I wrote included Personal Digital Brand: The 5 Cs — Content, Channels, Contacts, Communication, and Cadence.

Here are additional C concepts I have used when writing about leadership, knowledge management, and communities:

  • Caring, Courage, Coaching
  • Culture, Customization
  • Calm, Creative, Curious
  • Competence, Commitment, Compassion
  • Converse, Correspond
  • Consistency, Completeness
  • Challenge Convention
  • Common Concern

There is a vast array of concepts starting with the letter C from which to choose (see the Appendix for a more extensive list). In this book, I focus on these five that I feel are especially relevant to knowledge management: Capture, Curate, Connect, Collaborate, and Create.

Chapter 1: Capture

Knowledge capture includes collecting documents, presentations, spreadsheets, records, processes, software source code, images, audio, video, and other files that can be used for innovation, reuse, and learning. Gartner defines knowledge capture as “one of the five activities of the knowledge management process framework. Knowledge capture makes tacit knowledge explicit, i.e., it turns knowledge that is resident in the mind of the individual into an explicit representation available to the enterprise.”

Dave Snowden has famously asserted, “If you ask (people) to give you your knowledge on the basis that you may need it in the future, then you will never receive it.” This suggests that it is difficult to capture knowledge. And even if you do capture it, there is no guarantee that it will be reused.

Many knowledge management (KM) programs emphasize capture too much — collecting lots of documents, but not being able to effectively reuse them. It is reasonable to question the value of devoting significant energy to document collection in advance of a need.

Taking these caveats into consideration, it is nonetheless useful to establish processes for capturing knowledge for later reuse. As long as you avoid getting carried away with attempting to capture all documents, a capture process can be helpful in providing a supply of reusable content. There is still value in capturing some information in easily retrievable repositories.

Chapter 2: Curate

Curation is taking existing information and making it more useful. This includes better organizing it, making it more findable, and making it easier to use. The techniques for doing so include creating best bets, publishing frequently asked questions (FAQs), and monitoring and enhancing online discussions. Subject matter experts within special libraries are uniquely qualified to undertake this kind of curation.

To curate is to collect, select, assemble, and present information or multimedia content such as photos, videos, or music for other people to use or enjoy, using professional, expert, or personal knowledge and passion. Knowledge managers need to curate a wide variety of content to make the most important and useful information easy to find and retrieve. It’s not enough to just collect content and make it available in a large repository. Selecting and highlighting the best of this content greatly simplifies effective reuse. Knowledge managers are usually better at finding information than others in their organizations. And they can enable people to get the information they need more easily by curating it for their users.

This chapter provides details on three key types of curated content: search results, FAQs, and online discussions. Additional examples of curation are also explained.

Chapter 3: Connect

According to Tom Stewart, “Connection is the essence of knowledge management.” Connection supports the demand side of knowledge. It enables demand-driven or just-in-time knowledge management. It is a necessary complement to capture, which provides the supply side of knowledge.

There are three types of connection that are important for knowledge management: people to people, people to content, and content to content. People can connect to people through communities, Enterprise Social Networks (ESNs), and expertise locators. People can connect to content through navigation, search, and tagging. Content can be connected to other content using taxonomy, a thesaurus, and links.

Chapter 4: Collaborate

Collaboration is interacting with peers and colleagues to exchange ideas, share experiences, work together on projects, and solve problems. Work teams, project teams, and communities need consistent ways to share their knowledge, coordinate their activities, and communicate with one another. Providing standard collaboration processes and tools ensures that users will not need to frequently learn how to use new ones.

Working out loud (WOL) is an approach to collaboration in which employees form a virtual network and are encouraged to talk about their work and publish what they do. The goal is to inform others about current projects and to respond, learn, and apply the knowledge of others to their own work. WOL combines observable work (creating spaces where others can engage with your content) with narrating your work (posting in social software).

The words collaborate, collaboration, and collaborative are often used without much detail about what is meant. Here are use cases for collaboration to answer the question, “When you say collaborate, what exactly do you want to do?” along with examples for each one.

COLLABORATION: Communicate, Obtain, Locate, Learn, Assist, Build, Offer, Resolve, Ask, Transfer, Innovate, Onboard, Network

Chapter 5: Create

Creating new knowledge is an important goal for most organizations, but it can be challenging to achieve. By creating explicit processes that use existing forms of knowledge flow to create new knowledge, innovation can be stimulated, and invention can be facilitated. Creative ideas can be developed into useful new products, services, and ways of getting work done.

Knowledge creation includes inventing and innovating new concepts, approaches, methods, techniques, products, services, and ideas that can be used for the benefit of people and organizations. Creating new products and services, coming up with new ideas to try out, and developing innovative methods and processes can help transform an organization. Generating new sources of demand, stimulating personal and organizational growth, and rethinking the existing rules of the road can help an organization develop, thrive, and endure. Failure to do so may lead to stagnation, decay, or death.

Knowledge management can help trigger the imagination by providing a continually replenished source of ideas and experiences. People help bring out the best ideas in each other through their interaction in communities and networks. Publishing white papers stimulates creative thinking. Analyzing collected knowledge reveals patterns and opportunities for new developments.

Many organizations would like to be known for their innovations, but it is not easy to turn this aspiration into reality. The best ways to support knowledge creation are to establish standard processes for connecting creative people to one another, developing new methods, managing ideas, publishing white papers, and discovering new patterns through analysis.

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Stan Garfield

Knowledge Management Author and Speaker, Founder of SIKM Leaders Community, Community Evangelist, Knowledge Manager https://sites.google.com/site/stangarfield/