Knowledge has become a key resource in the present information and knowledge era. Knowledge management is a concept that has emerged explosively in business organizations during the 20th century. The application of knowledge management has now spread to other organizations as well including academic libraries. Knowledge management has been regarded as strategically important for organizations to gain a competitive advantage over their competitors, to add value to their products and to win greater satisfaction from their customers. Knowledge management is as important for libraries as for business. However in academic libraries there will be the absence of competition and money making concern. As it is already known libraries have had a long and rich experience in the management of information. Much of such knowledge and skills of librarianship can be applied to knowledge management. But unfortunately libraries with the exception of special libraries have not paid much attention to knowledge management. However, the environment in which academic libraries operate today is changing. Knowledge management is a viable means in which academic libraries could improve their services in the knowledge economy.
According to David Blair, “Knowledge management is not so much the management of tangible assets such as data or information, but the active management and support of expertise”. Expertise exists in people and much of this kind of knowledge is tacit rather than explicit. Some of it is expressible and some of it is not. Knowledge is always restricted to people and validated in the context of application. A well-known distinction in this respect is that between explicit and tacit knowledge. Basically, tacit knowledge is present in a person or an organization, but it is not written down or documented and it is often difficult to express or describe. On the other hand, explicit knowledge is expressed as information in various formats that include published materials and manuals of rules, routines and procedures.
Need of knowledge management in Academic Libraries
Libraries in the 21st century need to be a learning and knowledge center for their users. Knowledge management is one way to develop and apply the organizational knowledge needed to improve library operations and in due course, library effectiveness. It also enables libraries to generate organizational knowledge for higher educational institutions. Knowledge management is also aimed at extending the role of librarians to manage all types of information and tacit knowledge for the benefit of the library. Knowledge management can help transform the library into a more efficient, knowledge sharing organization. According to Seonghee Kim (1999), “Knowledge management practices aim to draw out the tacit knowledge people have, what they carry around with them, what they observe and learn from experience, rather than what is usually explicitly stated”.
In recent years, with the...