E-JASL: The Electronic Journal of Academic and Special Librarianship


Date of this Version

Spring 2006

Document Type



Electronic Journal of Academic and Special Librarianship (Spring 2006) 7(1). Also available at http://southernlibrarianship.icaap.org/content/v07n01/margulies_p01.htm.


Copyright 2006, the author. Use by permission.



An assessment is made of a fairly recent commitment by many business and governmental organizations to take a strategic look at ‘organizational knowledge,’ its origins and its management. Based on their activities and findings to identify, capture, and disseminate organizational knowledge, the paper describes how the Information Resource Center (IRC) and its special librarians can ensure the enterprise’s knowledge and information goals are met while heightening the IRC’s own intrinsic organizational value and profile.

This paper argues for major participation by the IRC and its special librarians in communities of practice (COPs). Such IRC participation is viewed as a critical success factor for the enterprise’s investment in communities. Special librarians can manage the mandatory content (reference resources, packaged tacit knowledge, technical and process information) as well as organize the other content-related aspects of the community delivering support to mine, refine, and disseminate knowledge, and most significantly, make connections among subject matter experts and the community of practice. Such alignment of the IRC as a fundamental support mechanism for COPs will provide quantifiable value for the IRC as it demonstrates linkage to the enterprise’s mission. Communities of Practice enable the enterprise’s core competencies and the special librarian is a critical necessity for COP performance and value.