Friday, February 24, 2012

Turning discovery systems into knowledge workbenches

(c) iStockphoto
I’ve been advocating for some time now, that the existing discovery systems being used in libraries, while good, are entirely too focused on discovering knowledge and information that already exists.   What I want is a discovery workbench that helps me to discover and develop new knowledge by providing me seamless integration with all the tools I need to use in that creation process. 

What reminded me of this was a post today on Digital Book World blog, entitled “Steal this Idea” which contains a kernel of what I’ve been advocating which is a way to publish a book, as a community process ( a process that was used in part in the writing of the book “We are smarter than Me.”  It’s a interesting book and this latest blog post certainly contains an interesting idea by author, Nate Hill of the San Jose Public Library, has put on the table.

So what are some of the elements of a discovery workbench that would help us create new knowledge?  I think it would contain things like:  a) seamless integration of word processing software, so that you can quickly move between reading the digital text and then quoting it or citing it, b) the automatic generation (or one button) generation of bibliography and footnote citations, c) access to the data sets behind the research and, at the same time, access to a suite of tools to allow you to work with copies of those same data sets for your own research, d) integration with CMS and LMS systems so I can potentially interact with instructors as I work, e) support of open access and peer reviewed publication process steps and of course, e) integration with social media tools so that you can discuss/debate ideas in those forums as you’re developing your them (should you want to do that, obviously if it’s cutting edge research, you might not want to tell anyone else!).  

I think if we want to make our libraries and librarianship more central in members’ lives, we should see our discovery systems as knowledge workbenches, not just discovery tools. 

Your thoughts?