Portal de Eventos, Conferencia Internacional BIREDIAL-ISTEC 2012

Tamaño de la fuente: 
Knowledge management in Universities: the role of institutional repositories
Maria João Amante

Última modificación: 29/11/2012

Resumen


Teaching and research are core functions of all research higher education institutions in which information is used to perform those tasks but also on strategic planning and management. The main goals of knowledge management at higher education institutions are: to improve knowledge creation processes performed by researchers, to improve knowledge transmission by teachers, to improve learning processes performed by students and to improve knowledge use on management activities that support all the processes above mentioned.

Academic libraries have to face three important changes in the world of academic communication: first, the rise of full-text periodicals available on Internet that has multiplied the opportunities of free information access; the second is a consequence of Internet development which allows and promotes knowledge democratization; the third, is the Open Access Movement to knowledge.

In this sense and in order to maintain their relevance and their values, academic libraries must fight for being able to provide the amount of information their users need through an efficient use of all the financial and human resources available in order to improve organizational performance. Also, technological evolution introduced a considerable amount of changes in the way of using, storing and disseminating information. As a consequence, the roles performed by libraries and librarians have been modified. Increasingly librarians assume the responsibility of managing organizational knowledge, namely in what concerns scientific and academic production. In this sense they must be considered as information workers, more specifically, as community managers and as content curators.

By knowledge management we understand the creation, storage, share and reuse of information at the organizational level in order to achieve the organizations goals. Librarians have always been considered as professionals that, in a silent way, organize information so that users could have access to the information they need. Nevertheless, the advancement in ICT, the increase on the amount of information available through Internet, the challenges that Higher Education institutions are facing, not only in terms of quality but also of socioeconomic relevance of the activities they perform, the competitive environment in which they operate as also the need to make profitable the resources at their disposal, constitute an opportunity for librarians to make more visible their abilities, competences and capabilities in the field of knowledge management. This role is not difficult to be performed by librarians not only because they already own the abilities and competences needed to manage information but also because they are prepared to think strategically, this is, taking on oneself the organizations mission and global objectives.

The establishment of Institutional Repositories (IRs) is an example of knowledge management projects side by side with the publication in open access journals, both initiatives framed by the Open Access Movement. This has to do with the improvement of the scholarly communication system and with the ease of access to scientific publications through the Internet. The diminishing of obstacles to the free flow of information assumes special relevance in the context of a Society that wants to be known as a Knowledge Society, as it facilitates the diffusion and visibility of research results allowing that public financing reverts on behalf of the society improving its economic, social, scientific and cultural development.

We consider important to highlight that, in a study conducted by Markey (2007), published by the Council on Library and Information (EUA), the leadership responsibility of almost 90% of the repositories in operation, in pilot or in project, belongs to librarians and libraries. To academic libraries and their professionals this leadership role in the implementation of IRs turns into the following benefits: the library and their professionals are understood as partners in the research carried out in the organization; they are appreciated by the other members of the academic community as they assure the preservation of the organizations intellectual memory; they deserve acknowledgement as they provide value added services; they also contribute to the improvement of the services delivered in terms of learning as they facilitate the access to scientific information and other data; they have a real participation in promoting the organizations’ image through the disclosure of the research developed at the institution; providing relevant information to top management.

The participation of libraries and their professionals on initiatives and projects directed to the delivery of cross organizational information services constitutes a common practice in order to assure their participation in global scope innovation projects. Their participation in the implementation of IRs projects must be understood at this level. It demands the development of a set of relationships (formal and informal) at different organizational levels and it demands also that librarians have a clear and well defined idea about the organizational information system, about information flows and about the institutional strategy and not only about the role that the library must perform in it.

Besides identifying the external information resources needed in order that the organization and its members may develop their teaching, learning and research activities, the library and its professionals are urged to participate or, in many situations, to assume the leadership of projects of information and knowledge internally produced.

In this sense, we consider very important to determine Open Access consequences to academic libraries, namely its impact on information delivery, which changes must be operated in the delivery of those services, how these changes go side by side with others that are affecting the future role of academic libraries and how libraries and librarians help to solve practical questions issued by the Open Access Movement. We should not forget that the creation and implementation of a Repository follows a set of phases more or less planned that are the same followed by any change or organizational innovation project. It implies a technical/operational dimension and a behavioral and mindset dimension not less important.

In this paper we also present some motivations that may be considered when deciding to create and install an Institutional Repository at higher education institutions, the different steps taken underlining probable obstacles and the communication/marketing strategies that can be used to overcome it.

KEYWORDS: Open Access, Institutional Repositories, Academic libraries, Organizational Innovation, Collaboration, Communication.



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