“I ain’t read not one bit of it”

The Influence of Canonical Maps on the Knowledge Work of Public Library Staff


  • Darin Freeburg University of South Carolina
  • Katie Klein




library management, canonical knowledge, noncanonical knowledge


The primary source of value in any organization is the knowledge of its workers. Yet, American workplaces are often not structured to support the unstructured and intellectual efforts of these workers. This makes it more difficult for a worker to apply what they know. This study looks at the knowledge work of library staff and how it is influenced by the presence of canonical maps that outline how work will and should go. Through think-alouds and interviews with six library staff, this study found that staff felt restricted by some canonical maps, faced challenges in following other canonical maps, and relied heavily on emergent noncanonical maps. These findings are significant to the practice of library management and the education of library professionals, suggesting ways to further support the efforts of library staff and prepare students for library work.


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Juried Papers