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As CIO at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, I oversee the medical libraries. These have always been clean, well-lighted places for books. But with the advent of Web 2.0 collaboration tools, blogging, content management portals, on-demand publishing and digital journals, libraries of paper books are becoming less relevant. By the time a book is printed, the knowledge it contains may be outdated. So, libraries need to become clean, well-lighted lounges for digital media staffed by expert knowledge navigators. In my institution, the librarians have thinned the book collection, migrated paper journals to digital media and indexed digital knowledge resources to support our search engine optimization efforts.
We’ve replaced the libraries with an information commons, and the Department of Medical Libraries has been retitled the Department of Knowledge Services. Librarians are now called information specialists. Here are a few examples of how they turn data into knowledge: