Knowledge networks have a broader connotation for me as a librarian. This is what we do! We create networks among knowledge resources first for our employer’s community but also deliberately (see Open Access Overview) as well as inadvertently for the public. VTechWorks is our fledgling online repository that enables us to create links among its resources, which are largely the university’s unique resources. Addison, the library’s online catalog, uses bibliographic records to link (largely fee-based) library resources in certain categories like authors, titles, subjects, etc. Summon is a knowledge network that expands upon Addison, VTechWorks and many, many other subscription databases that the library provides to the current university community, and sometimes to the public.
I would say that only a portion of the library’s knowledge networks have effective feedback loops. For example, an interlibrary loan request may lead to the library purchasing a copy or access to an e-version of the work. Most of our feedback loops are more nuanced. That is, we may log server statistics (accesses, downloads, etc.), but like circulation statistics, this doesn’t mean we regularly analyze them and weed our virtual and physical collections of unused publications. [Tangent—It’s a lesson we have not learned about our digital libraries—that they should be weeded of unused materials. Libraries have tended to weed their buildings only when shelving gets tight, or, as we are currently discovering, we need more room for people in the library and less room for the materials on the shelves because the balance of library uses has shifted from works on the shelves to works on servers and networks.]
These are now very traditional library resources and services. However, libraries are changing, and the VT library in particular. We have new leadership and we’re ‘open to the definition of what an academic library is and considering what people need it to become.’ In particular the Ubiquitous Librarian, Brian Mathews, has writen Think Like a STARTUP.
This is all I have time to write and I know I haven’t addressed the real issue that nature was getting at.