We Need to Talk: How Knowledge Sharing Catalyses Post-Pandemic Recovery

To get ready for our new reality post-Covid-19, we need to be open and transparent with each other, but first and foremost we have to believe in the good in people.

As we enter the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is still much uncertainty but one thing is certain: The pandemic will be defeated.

Preparing for that outcome begins now. And let there be no doubt: preparation is essential. Scientists, scholars, business and political leaders, and even ordinary citizens must start now to think about how we can prepare for moving forward.


Unlike any other time in history (and certainly not in our lifetime), we have an opportunity to start again. Now – not later – is the time to seek a solution for managing personal, professional, social, and any other interactions we have in our daily lives, in a way that maximizes benefits for all.

To be ready for when the pandemic is finished (or at least when it is at a stage at which social interactions can begin again), we must recognize that goodwill exists in humankind and it must be taken advantage of. There are times when it gets difficult, and for a wide range of reasons people cannot focus on how good comes about in society. They are too busy attempting to deal with the dreadful things that have been impacting their daily lives.

Collaborative knowledge services – the conversational practice that enables people to share what they know and have learned – is a process that supports the opportunity we are speaking about. With knowledge sharing (another way of describing knowledge services), others in their organizations, communities, and any other groups of which they are a part can hear how they think and with them, determine what they need to do to benefit the larger group. That is why knowledge services conversations develop and are practiced.

And while the concept of knowledge services is often thought about in terms of business and professional work, in fact such knowledge sharing is a process that applies to any group seeking to achieve any agreed-upon goal or objective. The point of knowledge services is simply that when people come together to discuss how they will move toward the achievement of their goal, they engage in a level of conversation based on respect, on factual, proven, and accepted information, and it all takes place in an environment of trust, respect, and optimism about what can be achieved.

Determination, Strength of Purpose, and Open Conversation

When the time comes, we can use knowledge services to build a just and equitable way of thinking about how we and others live. Why? Because we all will have come through the pandemic. Figuring out how to build our new society will take many forms, and the entire effort will be structured around the fact that we have been sidelined since early 2020. Now we are moving to where we will be when the pandemic is gone. And we will discover – once again – that our vision of what we are looking for is based on strong, societal features, including many that have not been particularly talked about (except as we noticed their lack) in recent months.

“We must be determined not to let current troubles destroy us as a society and we must carefully engage in a strength of purpose that will lead us to the conclusions we need.”

The success of a societal move toward “the next” – the coming time when we will all be required to re-think how we interact with one another and with society at large – will be determined by how seriously we take up the challenge before us. What we are trying to do is to establish a pattern, a “tone,” if you will, that expects all members of the group to participate and to do so at all levels of engagement. We must be determined not to let current troubles destroy us as a society and we must carefully engage in a strength of purpose that will lead us to the conclusions we need.

If we take up knowledge services as our catalyst for moving from bad to good, to ensure that how we talk with one another is based on what needs to be talked about, on sharing what is required to be shared, and if we can be as open and transparent as possible in terms of what we are trying to achieve, we will have our post-pandemic success.

A New State of Being

What do you see in the “new” state of things? Are there exemplary practices that can be incorporated into what you envision? Can you use knowledge sharing to perform responsibly? Or, if you are already performing responsibly, can you use knowledge services to ensure that you do an even better job in your interactions with others?

When the crisis ends, all citizens in our global society will have a choice. We will be able to review, to hold on to or discard, and to rebuild. The choices we make and our preparation for them is clear. It will indeed be an opportunity, in the most classic sense of the word.

Guy St. Clair

Guy St. Clair is the series editor for De Gruyter’s “Knowledge Services” and currently teaches at Columbia University in the City of New York. A Life Member of the Special Libraries Association (SLA), Guy was President of SLA in 1991-1992. In 2019, he received the John Cotton Dana Award in recognition of his achievements in knowledge services and in library and information science.

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