A snapshot of the Evolving Role of Information Intermediaries

In November 2020, STOREE Co-Investigator Kristina McDavid presented at the UBC Librarians’ and Archivists’ Research Community of Practice (LARC) Research Day. She provided background on the project “The Evolving Role of Information Intermediaries.” The idea for the study was sparked by an interest in “knowledge brokers” — people whose job it is to move information between groups.

The research team was curious about how librarians and archivists engage in this type of work. Their study focused on three main research questions:

  1. How are information professionals engaging in knowledge work?
  2. What competencies do they have/need to do this work?
  3. What are the challenges and opportunities?

The researchers interviewed 24 participants, and asked exploratory questions about what work people are doing, what knowledge and skills they use to do that work, and challenges and opportunities there are in doing knowledge exchange work. These questions centred around a goal of considering how to support the professional development of library and information studies (LIS) students and information professionals to do this work.

They observed that knowledge exchange work doesn’t fit neatly into typical library assessment and strategic planning models. This kind of work is often more of a dynamic journey with evolving goals rather than a straightforward and clearly-defined project. However, there is potential to learn from other disciplines that engage in knowledge exchange work. 

The next steps in the study were to perform analysis on the interview data, analyze LIS exit competencies to see how they align with necessary competencies to carry out this work, and to compile recommendations for professional development or LIS education to support knowledge exchange work.

Read more about this project here.