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Knowledge management, libraries and documentation or information services


The library and the Information or Documentation Center

In libraries and information or documentation centers, knowledge organization systems serve as bridges between the user's information requirements and the materials in the collection.

The situation of a user that faces an information retrieval task has some similarities to that of a learner. Both "learning" situations have something in common, these are mainly knowledge management tasks. The user must navigate in a structured organization of knowledge to reach an end point, understand and select.

Knowledge organization is fundamental to guarantee the user's access to materials in the collection, but most resources, like thesaurus, are compiled by specialists for specialists, so the average user, like students, researchers, politicians, lawyers, even casual users strive to create an acceptable-to-optimal search strategy. They search to know, but to search they must know.

Thesaurus are still an object developed following practical considerations, practically unchanged after several decades, and they attempt to represent the knowledge structure transferred by authors (as translated by thesaurus officials and indexers).

The main goal of a thesaurus is to control and structure a vocabulary to guarantee indexing coherence and retrieval efficacy, though it still could be used (or it is part of the intention) to help users understand a specific domain (offering semantic maps), showing concepts interrelationships, and helping to formalize  the definition of terms.

Thesaurus can also be used as a vocabulary acquisition tool and to activate thinking when searching.

The thesaurus is above all an expression of a specialized technical language and classification schemes from a lab or team, or of a domain in which the thesaurus sediments practical experience and ideas. In this sense, it is a deliberately rigid view (deformed, false and distorted) of the world. The natural user of a thesaurus is the indexer, not the end user.

The same applies to handling books or any other type of document in a smaller (though not because of  that less important) library or information management organization: school or academic library, museum, special library, etc. The user will always feel more comfortable and his experience will be more effective when interfacing collections with a graphical cognitive interface and knowledge management methods and strategies. It makes no difference if libraries are digital, paper or mixed.


Facilitating user interaction with the "knowledge base"

The user of a library or information or information center  already has a mental scheme of the world, thinks in natural language. In his mind, the contents to be located or identified are not represented by a narrow set of descriptors, but by concepts and relations. Therefore, matching his information needs from his mental scheme to a restricted set of concept-descriptors (or preferred terms) might not work, ending in frustration, delusion and worse. The task fails. A classical case of semantic noise.

The user's knowledge is structured in many conceptual categories and with many relation types, not only hierarchical and (full or partial) synonymy, but mainly associative. Why start from a specific concept from a list when any "relevant" concept would may ease the search formation? For most users this strategy might even lead to reconfiguring information needs and to direct learning.

The separation of knowledge domains is artificial. A holistic approach to knowledge organization could also benefit exploration of knowledge bases, if the thesaurus (or knowledge organization interface) has qualified links to other knowledge domains (if knowledge organization must represent the wealth of scientific literature).

 

 

The role of Knowledge Master in the knowledge organization of information systems.

Knowledge Master produces
conceptual knowledge bases.

 


In a traditional thesaurus, the meaning of a descriptor responds to pragmatic considerations of efficacy in retrieval, and to communication practice internal to the small group using the system. On the other hand a
Knowledge Master conceptual knowledge base tends (or is prepared to) reflect the psychological structure of knowledge, that of the user trying to build a search strategy or trying to identify documents.

Knowledge Master's conceptual knowledge bases handle concepts and relations in the same way a thesaurus or an equivalent knowledge organization interface does, but:

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it produces knowledge bases with a graphical interface, an evolution of semantic networks, that aids perception.

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this structure is closer to the user's mind organization

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these knowledge bases, endowed with a graphical interface can be multilayered, adding another knowledge qualification facet, the context.

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this graphical interface aids user perception of the knowledge structure

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with semantic paths higher level concepts can be illustrated. Passing the marker on a path of the map produces a full search enunciate

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semantic paths can be reused

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has internal search functions on each structural component of the knowledge base

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this graphical organization facilitates the discovery of new relations, and a better knowledge of the domain: this could improve the search experience and results

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it can be used to link a digital resource to related material.

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it can host any domain knowledge

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it eases the construction of the search strategy

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the cognitive use of voice offers an additional communication channel.

Searching, or constructing a search strategy is a personal goal-directed behavior, aimed not only at satisfying the user's informational needs but also to develop the average user's library proficiency. It inducts basic cognitive processes in search behavior and intellectual problem solving.

Other advantages:

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Using a conceptual knowledge base, closer to natural language (and therefore to the searcher's mental scheme), brings the user nearer to the contents to be searched.

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"Descriptors" in the knowledge base can also be controlled.

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It adapts to user behavior as described in contemporary psychology.

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Concept description is directly linked to concept itself.

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Offers a friendlier, attractive and meaningful interface, a direct handling interface.

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Direct cognitive indexing and hypertext-like retrieval.

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A conceptual knowledge base can contain conceptual, declarative and procedural knowledge.

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The robust concept descriptions that can be produced with KM, represent more closely the concepts in our mind that can be achieved with traditional concept mapping.

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Conceptual knowledge bases can be managed at a distance.

Knowledge Master is an excellent tool to train librarians, information specialists and users.

Paradoxically, in the so-called "information age” the information experts, and the functions they perform (corporate libraries, information centers, special libraries, records center, archives, are in danger of being left behind. Sometime librarians operate under an obsolete conceptual model and operate as if the library was a warehouse…

The adoption of knowledge management methods and strategies decisively contributes to improve the qualification and social role of librarians, archivists, documentalists, or information professionals or specialists, helping them to update their status on the solid basis of current scientific development, setting the foundations for a certain and stable professional and personal growth.

 

 

The application of knowledge management systems, methods and strategies for searching in libraries and information centers can build better bridges between the user's information needs and the material in a collection.

Consulting on Knowledge Management and Business Intelligence

Knowledge Management and the Contents Management System [CMS] (the cognitive interface to an information system)

 

Project management with knowledge management tools

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