Kathleen M. Flynn
Colshire Drive, McLean VA 22102-3481
- THE KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT PROGRAM
The Knowledge Management Program was instituted at The MITRE Corporation in
October of 1994. At the midpoint of this year-long program, the
responsibilities of the knowledge manager have become clearly defined and the
similarity of these responsibilities to the traditional roles of the librarian
suggest that this program offers a model for role of the librarian in the
transition to a digital library environment.
KEYWORDS: models, knowledge management, communications tools, library
At Digital Libraries '94, several papers explored the role of the "digital
librarian" and reflected on the opportunities for library professionals in this
new environment. As our experience with networked tools and information
structures increases, the parallels to the traditional roles of collection
development, resource organization, bibliographic instruction and reference
services are more easily translated into similar roles in the digital library.
Collection development changes in emphasis from acquisition to location;
resource organization becomes even more complex with the exponential increase
in information and the new opportunities and challenges from the dynamic nature
of the digital environment; bibliographic instruction remains a necessary
component, increasing in importance with the rapid introduction of new tools;
and reference services changes to accommodate the new and diverse communication
With the advent of many digital library models, it is important to address the
role of the library professional in the transition to digital environment. The
MITRE Corporation's Knowledge Management program offers one model for the role
of the librarian during this transition.
The MITRE Corporation is a multifaceted engineering company that provides
technical and strategic guidence in information, communications and
environmental systems to United States government and civil agencies. The
Corporation has over 5,000 employees in sites around the world and its
Corporate Information Services maintains a collection of over 175,000 items.
The corporation supports multiple platforms with varying levels of connectivity
providing access to both internal and external information resources.
In order to share knowledge across diverse and distributed groups, MITRE is
combining emerging network and information retrieval technologies with
structured processes for publishing and organizing information. As part of the
G050 Productivity Initiative, MITRE established such an environment in its DOD
Intelligence and CINC Support Division (G050) called the G050 Information
Server. MITRE is currently engaged in scaling and augmenting this environment
for the entire corporation in an effort called the MITRE Information
Infrastructure (MII). When completed the MII will serve as the repository for
all MITRE-generated documents and will allow users to access a variety of
internal and external information through a single interface.
MITRE recognized that the reengineering of an information environment has a
many effects on the user community, some of which cannot be anticipated. In
order to ease the transition and to identify and meet the information needs of
the technical staff during the transition and in the new environment, the
position of Knowledge Manager was created. This component of the G050
Productivity Initiative began in October 1994 with the following
The project is based in Department G056 - Digital Libraries
Technologies, which is also responsible for the development and maintenance of
the G050 Information Server - the testbed for MITRE Information Infrastructure
(MII). The Knowledge Manager works in coordination with Corporate Information
Services to tailor and profile information specific to the department domain,
in effect, to broker industry and consortia information, corporate knowledge
and history, and customer products for the technical staff.
- Organize and tag information, create metadata
- Navigate the "Data Warehouse"
- Create information and people locators
- Provide context rich information in reply to short term requests
- Use internet tools to manage information space
- Define locator concepts and operations to allow software knowledge agents
to be built.
At the midpoint of the program, the responsibilities associated with this
position have become more clearly defined. Each of the traditional roles of
the librarian are represented and modified to take advantage of the new
technologies and tools and to better meet the information needs of the staff.
Collection Development. In MITRE, as in most corporate organizations,
the external resources are largely on a fee or subscription basis. This is also
the case with electronic resources. Corporate Information Services handles the
negotiations of corporate-wide licenses and the purchase of online resources.
The Knowledge Manager can participate in a significant way in the selection and
evaluation of the services by bringing a thorough understanding of the research
interests and projects of the individual department.
Unlike the libraries of the past, however the digital corporate library has
access to a wealth of free information through the Internet. The Knowledge
Manager adds to corporate resources by establishing pointers to reliable sites,
abstracting contents and putting these resources together in easily navigable
format. Professional and technical listservs and newsgroups are identified and
monitored so that upcoming trends, product reviews and new resources can be
noted and forwarded to interested parties. This close monitoring is more easily
accomplished on a department level where the research and work falls into a
focused domain, making the review of a variety of resources feasible.
Resource Organization. The Knowledge Manager is involved in resource
organization on two levels. There is the organization of specific resources
within the department, through the establishment of a collection reflecting the
domain knowledge and the creation of a hyperlinked document for the collection
which functions as a gateway to related resources. This gateway has embedded
links to electronic resources and provides location and summary information to
other types of resources. Equally important, the Knowledge Manager plays a part
in the design efforts of corporate information infrastructure by participating,
with members of Information Services, on the development teams for the MII in
Publishing and Information Search and Retrieval as well as working with the
G050 Information Server team. This participation assures that the technical
developments are tempered by the retrieval requirements of both the
professional and non-professional researcher.
Bibliographic Instruction. Teaching the user community how to use tools
of the digital library to locate information is potentially the most
significant role of the Knowledge Manager. In this particular environment, the
technical staff design and evaluate such tools on regular basis and so require
little in the way of instruction so the focus has been instead on the promotion
of new resources and sharing of valuable sites. New staff are given an
introduction to the MITRE networked resources as well as access to the external
Reference Services. The new communication tools, primarily electronic
mail, have been at the root of much of the discussion of electronic reference
services which often emphasize the difficulty of conducting a reference
interview. The experiences in this program illustrate that, for now, the
greatest benefits of new communication tools lie in the delivery of information
rather than the articulation of information needs. While specific requests,
such as particular articles or literature searches, are often made via email,
the majority of requests come out of meetings and from personal interviews.
Networked technologies have provided a variety of methods by which responses
can be delivered which are sensitive to the preferences, skills and technical
requirements of the requester. Currently, the Knowledge Manager responds via
email, through the creation of linked web pages, or by placing a response in
public folders or electronic in-baskets.
The Knowledge Manager position will continue to evolve as the information
infrastructure develops. A greater emphasis will likely be placed on training
and collection development while resource organization will be facillitated by
the establishment of standard processes.
The precise role of the Knowledge Manager will depend on the organization
structure and information needs. The emphasis in each of the areas discussed
will likely change according to the needs of the user community and the level
of technological sophistication. The experience so far has been useful in
identifying the areas in which a Knowledge Manager or "Digital Librarian" can
facilitate the transition into a digital environment. As digital libraries
move closer to reality, it is important that users are equipped to handle the
transition. Knowledge Managers and Digital Librarians should be considered
tools to facillitate this transition.