The knowledge entrepreneur (review)
The images of entrepreneurs and librarians generally exist as polar opposites—what place would a solo businessperson have in the non-profit-driven world of knowledge?—but as new business models emerge, these two worlds increasingly overlap. Librarians, or "knowledge workers" as Skrzeszewski calls them, have established a place for themselves in the new economy. They are forging new industries and carving new spaces for creative development in institutions inside and outside of traditional libraries.
The Knowledge Entrepreneur is an introduction to the principles and skills required for a library professional to become an entrepreneur. Chapters 1 and 2 present an outline of the knowledge economy and the librarian's place in it, describing traits a librarian must develop in this setting. The succeeding chapters engage the reader in the more practical aspects of starting a business venture in the knowledge economy. The author describes ways to assess trends in an environment and detect opportunities for innovative solutions; in doing so, he examines how the roles of knowledge institutions in the public and private sectors have changed in light of recent trends in information and communication technologies, consortia, globalization, and demographics. Chapter 4 explores the roots of innovation, starting with the organization of knowledge as a foundation for creative development. Chapters 5 and 6 develop the ideas of strategic plans, business structures and financing models, as well as fees for services. Chapters 7 and 8 lead from proposal-writing into the topic of marketing campaigns for information products, including practical tips for branding and even brochure design. In chapter 9, the author discusses success strategies knowledge entrepreneurs use today, examining the specifics of emerging fields such as information brokerage, knowledge management, strategic (or competitive) intelligence, consultation, education and training services, and electronic publishing. The final chapter explores how knowledge industries can be exported and managed in a global economy, and concludes with a summary of steps toward establishing a knowledge venture outside or inside of a company or institution.
A strength of this book is its emphasis on “case study” narratives, each exploring a different industry area. Ten interviews are interspersed through the book. The personal reflections in each explain how they made the transition into the knowledge economy, the competencies key to their work, and where they see opportunities developing in the market today.
The Knowledge Entrepreneur’s primary audience appears to be library school students looking to explore future career opportunities and established information professionals seeking to develop a business concept and bring it to fruition. Readers who have a grounding in business management and marketing will not find the text as useful, though its case studies and librarian-centered approach might help recontextualize entrepreneurial practices and give them ideas for how to proceed. Skrzeszewski fills this niche well, providing a no-nonsense introduction to the skills an information specialist needs in a knowledge economy, covered with sufficient depth to be functional while remaining an engaging read. While starting up a business may be outside many librarians’ goals, the skills of identifying opportunities, planning strategies, and promoting a quality product have a value universal to libraries of all types.
Benjamin is webmaster and production editor of Library Student Journal, and is in his final semester at the Master of Library Science program at the University at Buffalo, focusing in digital libraries, metadata, and classification. He works in reference and instruction at Buffalo State College, and in systems and cataloging for the UB Goetz Classics library and the Center for Development of Human Services.
Copyright, 2013 Library Student Journal | Contact