Information literacy and its relationship to knowledge management

Stuart Ferguson

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This paper explores the perceived commonalities between information literacy (IL) and knowledge
management (KM) and the different contexts in which the two areas of theory and practice
manifest themselves. It approaches the study in terms of, first, the widespread interest in KM within
the Library and Information Services (LIS) community; second, the belief, supported by research
into workplace IL, that IL and the fostering of an information literate workforce are key components
in any KM initiative; and, third, the LIS profession’s long-standing interest and expertise in IL
instruction. KM is put into context with reference to two publications by Standards Australia and
from this the main functions of a knowledge manager are delineated. It is suggested, with
reference to IL in higher education and workplace contexts and to well-articulated models of
knowledge transfer, such as SECI, that there are significant commonalities between IL and KM but
that there are equally significant differences between the two. The paper argues that research in
each domain can inform the other but that IL represents a fraction of the KM domain, so attempts
to conflate the two may cause confusion rather than providing a pathway for information
professionals and others pursuing workplace IL. Finally the paper provides recommendations for
further research and suggests a scalar approach to conceptualising KM and IL practice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6-24
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Information Literacy
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2009


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