Community Problem Solving

Community Problem Solving-62
Research focusing on everyday life information situations (cf.Dervin, (1999) examined a range of theoretical frameworks for studying the use of networked community information.

Research focusing on everyday life information situations (cf.Dervin, (1999) examined a range of theoretical frameworks for studying the use of networked community information.

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Themes evolved from the data; supporting documentation—reports, articles and library communication was also coded. The study showed 1) how information use environment components (people, setting, problems, problem resolutions) combine in this distributed information use environment to determine specific information needs and uses; and 2) how the library contributed to the viability of this distributed information use environment. Community problem solving, here explicated as a distributed information use environment, is likely to be seen in multiple communities.

The library model presented demonstrates that by reshaping its information practice within the framework of an information use environment, a library can anticipate community information needs as they are generated and where they are most relevant.

First, the model is used to help understand the information behaviour of selected Hartford organizations that seek to ameliorate community problems.

Secondly, we show how the public library has innovatively altered its practice to work within a specific problem-solving context (information use environment) to effectively anticipate and respond to community information needs.

Taylor recognized that his model was strongly influenced by Dervin's sense-making theory (Dervin 1983, 1989, 1976) and by Dervin and Nilan's (1986) review that had identified the paradigm shift in information behaviour research from system-centered user studies to a focus on understanding information needs, seeking and use.

Taylor anticipated that the information use environment framework would serve as 'a bridge between (a) users and their environments, and (b) the world of the system designer, information manager, and those who really make the system work—from reference librarians to information analysts' (Taylor 1991: 218).

Based on data collected in Hartford, Connecticut, in the United States, this study explores the use of information and the role of information professionals in a community problem-solving environment.

This is one of eight separate field studies conducted as part of a grant from the U. Institute of Museum and Library Services that focused on the study of the information behaviour of people in community settings, emphasizing information needs, seeking, giving and use in the process of everyday living.

For example, Choo effectively incorporates Taylor's model (along with concepts from Dervin (1983, 1992), Kuhlthau (2003), and others into his integrated model of information-seeking behaviour, emphasizing that 'the outcome of information use is a change in the individual's capacity to act' (Choo 2006: 65).

The research presented in this paper uses the information use environment as a framework while also leveraging the conceptual gains afforded by the contextual approaches used by researchers in recent years.


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