For a long time now I have been advocating the role of the ‘knowledge broker’. When I worked at Land & Water Australia (LWA) they had a whole team of what they called ‘knowledge brokers’ but I am still uncomfortable with the role these team members took on as it did not really reflect my understanding of a knowledge broker.
The LWA definition states “Knowledge Brokering – Focuses on connecting people interested in an issue, it helps build relationships and networks for sharing existing research and ideas for stimulating new work. Knowledge brokers provide links between different entities or individuals that otherwise would not have any relationship. It is a dynamic activity and is not simply focused on moving information from a source to a recipient.” It is the last sentence that hits home. As a ‘recovering librarian’ all too often we see the role of the librarian as distributing information to a recipient. It is such a passive role and requires the information seeker to ask for information and then have it delivered. Librarians really need to think outside this role and into a proactive role – and not just running alerting services to their clientele. The information professional needs to get outside the walls of their centre and go out and be part of their organisation and build trusted and strong relationships with their cleints. As we hear so often it is all about building trusted relationships (my old team used to call it ‘not just a one night stand’).
I am very much of the view that all staff in organisations have a brokering role to play. The power in the brokering position becomes obvious when you undertake a Social Network Analysis in an organisation and realise how important relationships are to successful outcomes.
I have developed a model around this and this is the first time I am actually making it public. A select few have seen this but I guess I have been refining it over time (even though it is relatively simple)
The whole idea is that each broker is empowered to create a new broker and that no one actually owns the information or knowledge that is being shared. The idea is to encourage collaboration and sharing.
As my first post this makes me a bit nervous. If you want to hear more about my opinions on the role of librarians as knowledge brokers listen to the podcast interview I did with InMagic about 12 months ago.
Would love some comments on this…..