Why a blog on Personal Knowledge Management for Librarians?

293: E = Ergophobia

I first became aware of Personal Knowledge Management (PKM) as a specific area of study when Elisabeth Shields, now a friend and co-author of this blog, was the featured speaker at one of our Library Faculty Organization meetings at Georgia Tech.  I was so interested in her presentation that I later struck up a friendship with her and our other blog co-author, Mary Axford.  Over the next year, we met occasionally for lunch to discuss PKM, while each continued to explore, in our spare time, our own areas of interest in the PKM world.  What I discovered was that while literature on the parent field of Knowledge Management (KM) proliferated, PKM was more elusive.  I also discovered that people were talking about PKM topics, but calling them very different things.  Personal Information Management, Personal Learning Environment, Academic Workflow, Time Management, Information Overload were all terms that led me to discussions touching on various facets of PKM.  People appeared to be talking about PKM without often knowing they were doing so. There were blogs and online videos reviewing software tools that aided in PKM and described personal experiences on how the various authors had solved some aspect of information management in their lives. What I found more difficult to locate were academic level discussions of the PKM theory and practical applications, especially as it related to librarians and their users.  This was surprising to me, a reference librarian who dealt daily with Information Overload and PKM both personally and professionally as I tried to help students manage the myriad of challenges they faced blending personal life and scholastic endeavors.  For me, this blog is a way for Elisabeth, Mary and me to continue our PKM discussions and hopefully meet new friends that want to join us on our journey of discovery.

Elisabeth has already shared her personal knowledge management ecosystem.  Mine is still very much in development.  I’m in that “trying things out” stage. Here are the main tools I’m working with today:

Calendar:  I use our work calendar (Zimbra) as my main calendar.  It keeps me informed of work meetings as well as personal appointments (which can be made private from the rest of my work world if I so choose). My calendar is a main tool when I’m writing my performance evaluation each year. I review the monthly entries to make sure I remember to report all my personal learning classes & seminars, my major projects as well as some of those intensive, impromptu projects that we all do and then forget about by the end of the year.

Mail:  I have a multitude of folders and sub-folders where I keep track of mail related to projects.  It works very well for me now and using my folders and my mailbox search, I can usually find information quickly that my team is trying to remember.  What I don’t like about this method is that I recognize it is unstable.  Right now, we have very high limits on our mail capacity, but there is always the danger of system problems crashing my mail.. or a forced conversion to a new system (which happened a few years ago) where the folder/sub-folder setup I’ve created may be lost. I’m keeping my eye out for what I want to do in this area for the long-term.

Microsoft OneNote: I am lucky enough to have the Microsoft Office 2010 suite at work and on my work laptop.  So therefore I also have Microsoft OneNote.  I think in folders and hierarchical organization, so I find OneNote  (along with Microsoft Skydrive to sync between computers) to be a great “scrapbook” for me, both personally and professionally.

Evernote: Mary has also converted me to use Evernote for some things.  I especially use it for the collaborative space the three of us share for blog ideas, PKM info, etc. I’ve found this a particularly nice place to store notes of important tips I discover when reading books about PKM and tools.

Sticky Notes:  This is the neatest tool!  Along with Snipping Tool, this is one of the most useful things I’ve ever found in the ACCESSORIES folder of my computer.  Sticky Notes are exactly that… square notes that will attach themselves to your desk top.  You can move them around, change their color, change the note information, change the size, etc.  But I have YET to have one disappear… my computer crashes, I log off, my battery runs out… My cheerful little sticky notes bounce right back on the home page as I log in.  I love them for to do lists, reminders of things to check back on..I even have a personal inspirational one for some time management techniques I’m trying out.

So there you have it.  My beginnings of a personal knowledge management ecosystem. What other ideas are some of you readers using?


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