Communities of Practice in an academic library: a run on the wild side?


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Communities of Practice in an academic library: a run on the wild side?
Presentation by Johann van Wyk at the
5th ICAHIS Conference held on 4-7 July 2005 at
Onderstepoort, University of Pretoria,
South Africa

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Communities of Practice in an academic library: a run on the wild side?

  1. 1. Communities of Practice in an academic library: a run on the wild side? Presentation by Johann van Wyk at the Knowledge Management Practitioners Group Meeting on 12 July 2005 in Pretoria, South Africa Background:
  2. 2. Introduction
  3. 3. Knowledge • Explicit knowledge • Tacit knowledge
  4. 4. Overview • • • • Knowledge Management Learning Organisation Communities of Practice (CoPs) CoPs in an Academic Library: Case Study: Academic Information Service, University of Pretoria
  5. 5. Communities of Practice Knowledge Management Learning Organisations
  6. 6. Knowledge Management • Definition: - Utilisation and exploitation of all knowledge assets of organisation - Including all its info and its unarticulated experience and expertise - Ensure sustainability and competitive advantage
  7. 7. KM Definition (Cont.) - Utilises its culture, processes and infrastructure to - Create, identify, capture, share, use & reuse knowledge - Adding optimal value to client’s knowledge base
  8. 8. Learning organisation • Definition: “An organisation that can identify, develop and utilize its tacit and explicit knowledge capabilities, enabling the organisation to expand its capacity to learn and grow, and to modify its behaviour to reflect new knowledge and insights, and in doing so to improve its performance and success”.
  9. 9. Communities of Practice (CoPs) • Background: - Social groups: e.g. Drinking clubs, Roman Collegia, Guilds, Caste System in India, regiments, old-boy-networks, peer groups and gangs. - Academic groups: e.g. Royal Society, American Philosophical Society - Informal Academic Groups: Invisible Colleges - Xerox: Communities of Professionals - Jean Lave and Etienne Wenger
  10. 10. What is a Community of Practice? “A Community of Practice is a network of people emerging spontaneously, and held together by informal relationships and common purpose, that share common knowledge or a specific domain, expertise and tools, and learn from one another”.
  11. 11. Communities of Practice Knowledge Management Learning Organisations
  12. 12. Capturing knowledge through CoPs • Storytelling • Role-play/simulations
  13. 13. Capturing knowledge through CoPs (Cont.) • Knowledge Mapping
  14. 14. Case Study: Academic Information Service (AIS), University of Pretoria, South Africa • Background • Respondents • Method: Literature study and Interviews
  15. 15. CoPs identified in the AIS
  16. 16. Cross Organisational CoPs AIS Government Department CoP Other library Academic department at other University Academic Department
  17. 17. Knowledge Management Practitioners Group of Pretoria •
  18. 18. GCATS (GAELIC Cataloguers)
  19. 19. Maritime Archaeology Group Lecturer Students Maritime Archaeology Researchers from Cape Town Information Specialist
  20. 20. Virtual Group on Water Research
  21. 21. Virtual Group on Architecture
  22. 22. African Goats Group
  23. 23. Internal CoPs in the AIS
  24. 24. Information Specialists Group Law Economic and Management Sciences Medical Sciences Theology & Sociological Sciences Natural & Agric. Sciences and Engineering Information Specialists Group General Humanities Groenkloof (Education) Veterinary sciences
  25. 25. Digital Repositories Group
  26. 26. Informal Network for E-Information Experts
  27. 27. Stages in development of a CoP
  28. 28. Potential Definition The possibility for the formation of a community exists. Fundamental function Connection. Possible role of information specialist/librarian   Identify suitable candidates to join; Market CoP to potential members; Identify existing communities; Sell CoP to management for support; Conduct interviews and facilitate group dialogue; Act as Community Champion or coach a Community champion.
  29. 29. Formation Definition The members come together, form a community and set out its operating principles. Fundamental function Capturing memory, context creation and structuring. Possible role of information specialist/librarian   Act as facilitator; Set up, facilitate and document informal meetings; Map knowledge flows and knowledge relationships; Build group identity by setting up a homepage or designing a virtual workspace.
  30. 30. Commitment Definition The community executes and improves its processes. Fundamental function Access and learning. Possible role of information specialist/librarian   Design knowledge capture and documentation systems; Design, convene and facilitate seminars and conferences; Develop support strategies for the group learning agenda.
  31. 31. Active Definition The community understands and demonstrates benefits from knowledge sharing and the collective work of the community. Fundamental function Collaboration. Possible role of information specialist/librarian Encourage members to stay committed; Make online links to members' papers; Publish stories on individuals or communities in newsletters or other corporate-wide publications; Address organizational issues that are helping or hindering activity; Help negotiate role of CoP in organizational decision-making; Forge linkages with other groups and communities.
  32. 32. Scenario 1 – Adaptive Definition The community adapts to changes in the environment Fundamental function Innovation and generation Possible role of information specialist/librarian   Mentor/teacher Facilitator Innovator
  33. 33. Scenario 2 – Disengage and Disperse Definition The usefulness of the community for its members and supporting organization has been outlived, and its members move on Fundamental function Disengagement Possible role of information specialist/librarian   Facilitate Convene reunions Maintain directory
  34. 34. Results
  35. 35. Role of Management
  36. 36. Time to participate
  37. 37. Workload
  38. 38. Rewards or Incentives
  39. 39. New Members
  40. 40. Size of the CoP • Ideal size: 15 – 20 Members
  41. 41. Trust
  42. 42. Coordination or Facilitation role in the CoP
  43. 43. Formal v Informal
  44. 44. Information Technology • • • • E-mail and Listservs Telephone and Teleconferencing Web Pages Virtual Workspaces on Portals, e.g. InfoPortal of UP
  45. 45. Conclusion • Are Communities of Practice in Academic Libraries a run on the wild side?