SMR International began in 1984 as OPL Resources, Ltd. The company’s founders Guy St. Clair and Andrew Berner recognized that the many librarians and information specialists working alone required support and professional guidance in order to provide the best possible service for their parent organizations and communities. In the early 1970s, St. Clair had identified this group of information professionals and recognized that their particular professional development and networking needs were not being met in the larger library and information science profession. He took up the “cause” of one-person librarianship, speaking at professional conferences, writing papers for professional journals, and occasionally consulting with organizations that employed a one-person librarian and required professional guidance. In 1984, St. Clair and Berner began publishing The One-Person Library: A Newsletter for Librarians and Management, which they continued to publish until 1998.
By the early 1990s, OPL Resources, Ltd. was offering consulting services and training programs for a market much wider than the one-person library community. At the same time, the company’s focus changed as St. Clair’s management writings became recognized as important resources for managers both in the library and information science profession and for the many information specialists and professionals who were not connected with librarianship. In 1993, as part of its new focus, the company began publishing InfoManage: The International Management Newsletter for the Information Services Executive, which continued until 1998. In 1994 the corporate name was changed to SMR International, to reflect the global focus of the company’s many training, consulting, and publishing activities.
During the last decade of the 20th century, it became apparent that the information services field was broader than that identified as librarianship and information science in the academic community. Indeed, in his writings on the management of information services, St. Clair called on the management community to recognize that “the various constituent units of our society concerned with information have many of the same goals, objectives, and, not surprisingly, many of the same concerns.” He pointed out that with respect to these concerns “it does not matter if the reader of these books is employed as an information manager, information provider, information specialist, or indeed, as an information counselor…. In fact, it does not matter whether the reader is employed in information technology, telecommunications, traditional librarianship, records management, corporate or organizational archives, the information brokerage field, publishing, consulting, or any of the other myriad branches of information services (including service to the information community and the many vendors who make up that branch of the profession).” From St. Clair’s perspective—and that of SMR International—the world of information management and the need for shared management practices was much more inclusive than that of the academic library and information science profession.
By the time the new century began, SMR International’s principals, clients, and workshop attendees had begun to understand that, while information management as being practiced throughout society was having an enormous and positive impact, the promise of knowledge management was not being realized at the level that had been expected. The missing link, it seemed, was a management approach that would motivate all organizational stakeholders to share what they knew, for the benefit of the larger organization. Seeking that link, SMR International developed Knowledge Services, a management methodology that converges information management and knowledge management—as distinct but interconnected disciplines—with strategic (performance-centered) learning. Knowledge Services develops the learning component and matches it with information management and knowledge management so that all stakeholders recognize the value of not only developing knowledge but, as appropriate, of sharing what they develop as well. In 2003, Knowledge Services and KD/KS (Knowledge Development/Knowledge Sharing), the critical element of Knowledge Services as a management concept, were described in Guy St. Clair’s book, Beyond Degrees: Professional Learning for Knowledge Services, published by K G Saur.
As the management methodology that converges the three disciplines that affect how people manage information, how they manage knowledge, and how they use strategic (performance-centered) learning in all its forms, Knowledge Services soon became recognized for the value it brings to the organization. When embraced by all knowledge workers and accepted into the organizational culture, KD/KS establishes the very foundation on which knowledge brokering—as one expert described the quest—can be built, and the common goal of all stakeholders becomes the successful achievement of the organizational mission.
Knowledge Services—building on the best of information management, knowledge management, and strategic (performance-centered) learning—is the particular strength of SMR International, the special strength the company now brings to the larger management community.