Purpose ' The purpose of this paper is to examine academic library director and graduate student perceptions of knowledge management for library strategic planning, including its definition and potential applications and benefits.Design/methodology/approach ' A multiple-choice e-mail survey was sent to 40 academic library directors and 19 graduate students of information and library science. Respondents were asked to define knowledge management for strategic planning and answer related questions on its potential applications and benefits. Respondents could also specify their own views on the subject.Findings ' There are minor differences in how library directors and graduate students define knowledge management. However, there is a disparity in how these two groups view potential applications and benefits of knowledge management for library strategic planning. Less than half ofthe directors (41.4 per cent) but the majority of students (77.8 per cent) believes that knowledge management is being applied to library strategic planning to create a portal for external information including links to library patron groups, research groups and publications. In addition, the majority of directors (75.8 per cent), but only half of the students (50.0 per cent) believe that knowledge management will improve the sharing of internal and external information.Research limitations/implications ' The number of participants in this e-mail survey is limited in both size and location. Future research should include more participants from a wider area and examine more concrete issues.Practical implications ' This paper provides a useful overview of the perceptions of knowledge management, including its applications and potential benefits for library strategic planning.Originality/value ' Differing viewpoints between library directors and graduate students reflects the contrast between real-world experience and academic applications. Acknowledging these differences is the first step toward ensuring that in the future, knowledge management is consistently and effectively applied to library strategic planning.