Sarah Nichols

Sarah L. Nichols is an experienced knowledge manager with expertise developed in a variety of professional services and nonprofit organizations. She is skilled in research, enterprise social networking applications, marketing of library and knowledge management services, contract negotiation and vendor relationship management. Now, as a writer, editor and principal of her own consulting practice, Sotto Voce Communications, Sarah writes about issues facing librarians, knowledge managers and other information professionals.

Recent Posts

A New Purpose for KM Systems: Enabling Knowledge Creation

Posted by Sarah Nichols on 10/10/2017

In their recent Harvard Business Review article, Help Employees Create Knowledge—Not Just Share It, John Hagel III and John Seely Brown argue “the most valuable form of learning today is actually creating new knowledge.” Traditional KM systems represented a huge leap forward in terms of making explicit knowledge accessible and structured, but what knowledge management strategies and applications do we need in today’s business environment in order to maximize the intersection of knowledge and learning?

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Topics: Knowledge Management, Knowledge Management Systems, Knowledge Creation

3 Tenets of Customer Service

Posted by Sarah Nichols on 9/7/2017

“Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.” The origin of this quote is unclear, but it is often cited in the education sector during discussions about how best to motivate students and improve teaching skills. The concept is equally relevant to customer service, and therefore applies to librarians and other information professionals.

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Topics: Library Management, Solo Librarianship, Small Library Management, Integrated Library Systems

Robust KM is all about Supplements!

Posted by Sarah Nichols on 8/31/2017

In a recent article, Knowledge Management in the Age of Social Media, author Robin Singh suggests that social media presents serious challenges to the traditional "knowledge base," and asks whether it can transform knowledge management. Please read on for some additional thoughts on social knowledge exchange as a supplement to classic KM.

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Topics: Knowledge Management, Inmagic Presto, Knowledge Management Systems

When is a KM Tool not a Tool?

Posted by Sarah Nichols on 4/5/2017

In Neil Olonoff’s excellent post “Knowledge Management Tools That Aren’t Tools,” he takes us back to the basic purpose and definition of a tool: something that is supposed to make work easier. It’s easy to agree with that, yet there are so many KM “tools” that only complicate matters, and make work harder. And there in a nutshell is the biggest barrier to user adoption.

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Topics: Knowledge Management, Inmagic Presto, Knowledge Management Systems, Presto

The Librarian’s Secret Weapon

Posted by Sarah Nichols on 2/8/2017

I’m reading a wonderful book at the moment, called “The Little Paris Bookshop,” by Nina George. In it, one of the characters says, “The others all left with the riddle unsolved; none of them asked the right questions. Asking questions is an art.” In my experience, that is very true …and the ability to practice that art in support of a patron’s or user’s needs is a librarian’s secret weapon.

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Topics: Library Management, Knowledge Management, SydneyEnterprise, Small Library Management, Knowledge Management Systems, Integrated Library Systems

VIM and Vigor—The Secrets to a Great KM Application

Posted by Sarah Nichols on 12/2/2016

People at organizations with underperforming KM platforms can really struggle to find information; unfortunately, they pretty much need to know exactly what they want and where it is, before they can find it. A great KM platform solves that problem.

If your organization relies on a shared drive or a DMS—or an underpowered knowledge management system—to house or reference critical information assets, that’s a real handicap. It means you can only retrieve valuable content if you know exactly what you want (and where it is), and that means you often have to rely on institutional memory.

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Topics: Knowledge Management, KM Participation, KM Adoption

From the Director’s Chair: Business as a Second, Third and Fourth Language

Posted by Sarah Nichols on 9/30/2016

This is the third post in a series in which I share experiences from decades as an Information Services Director, including my best tips, my worst mistakes, and lessons learned. Please read on for some thoughts about the importance of speaking the language of your senior management and of your organization as a whole.

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Topics: Library Management, Knowledge Management, Solo Librarianship

From the Director’s Chair: Follow the Leader

Posted by Sarah Nichols on 9/21/2016

This is the second post in a series in which I’ll share experiences from my decades as an Information Services Director. Many special librarians, researchers or knowledge managers get promoted through the ranks into senior management roles without the benefit of formal training in administrative and operational areas. That was the case with me, and in this series I’ll share my best tips, my worst mistakes, and lessons learned. Please read on for some thoughts about developing your most productive departmental strategy.

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Topics: Library Management, Knowledge Management, Solo Librarianship

From the Director’s Chair:  The Best, the Worst, and Lessons Learned

Posted by Sarah Nichols on 9/7/2016

This is the first post in an occasional series in which I’ll share experiences from my decades as an Information Services Director. Many librarians, researchers or knowledge managers get promoted through the ranks into senior management roles without the benefit of formal training in administrative and operational areas—me included. That can make things …interesting! In this series I’ll share my best tips, my worst mistakes, and lessons learned. Please read on for the most illuminating interview question you can ask when you’re hiring.

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Topics: Management, Interview Tips

KM Has an Image Problem

Posted by Sarah Nichols on 4/27/2016

Knowledge management has an image problem. Nobody really knows what KM is, and it’s very easy to devalue. Companies that provide KM software need to market themselves via use cases (a technique that identifies the business goals to be accomplished by a software system) in order to make the light bulb go on for prospective customers. Individual practitioners need to do something similar.

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Topics: Knowledge Management

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