Who Moved My Library?

Commentary on the changing world of libraries, from the viewpoint of a corporate library.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Concept Mapping Technology - Tool to create HTML pathfinders?

One of the assignments for my Knowledge Management class was a knowledge map. A knowledge map is a tangible representation or catalog of the concepts and relationships of knowledge. A knowledge map is a navigational aid that enables the user to find the desired concept and then retrieve relevant knowledge sources.

The limitations of my drawing skills combined with the fact that I knew that there had to be a program that could create a map led me to search for such a beast. My hunt was fruitful with the discovery of Cmap Tools. The software is free to download and it's SUPER easy to use. I created a map illustrating the flow of knowledge in my organization.

The use for this software is limited only by your imagination. A fellow classmate also discovered Cmap and created several maps that resembled pathfinders. Each map represented a task: How to find this or do that. Within nodes she linked documents and websites in a flowchart format (I didn't get nearly that advanced, nor did I realize that the maps COULD get that advanced. Thanks Deb!). In Deb's example, if someone was looking for a resource they could follow the map (aided by embedded links) and find what they were looking for.

Cmap software also allows for exporting the map to a webpage. You can then take that map and put it up on the internet or an intranet for others to use. I think this would be a great tool for publishing easy to use and gorgeous pathfinders for public or academic libraries.

Potential uses of Cmaps:
  • Pathfinders of all sorts (How to search the web, How to find government information)
  • Map staff knowledge (Marion has extensive patent knowledge, Leo is an expert searcher of our business databases)
  • Map best practices for staff use (When a patron asks for ___ ask them this question, if you get this answer go to these resources, if they want more go here...)
  • Map capabilities of licensed software/databases (Ovid can do this and that, use OCLC for that and this)
  • Create Reader's Advisories for popular authors (A map for Tom Clancy could direct readers who liked one of his books or series to other great reads with actual links to the books in the OPAC)
Try them and let me know if you think of other uses to add to this list.

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