Community Problem Solving

Community Problem Solving-63
First, the model is used to help understand the information behaviour of selected Hartford organizations that seek to ameliorate community problems.

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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.

As we analysed our data we recognized that Taylor's (1991) information use environment model provided a powerful framework to help understand how information was used in the context of community problem solving.

The results of that analysis are explored in this paper.

Scholars have theorized for decades that libraries and librarians can play a vital role in democracy (e.g., Ditzion 1947; Garceau 1949); and library professionals continue to struggle with how best to understand and carry out a civic mission (Durrance 1984a, 1984b; Durrance 2001; Kranich 2001; Schull 2004).

This research was designed to inform our understanding of these issues.

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).

In this paper we use Taylor's (1991) seminal paper on information use environments because of its links to and implications for the professional practice of librarians.

Taylor developed the information use environment model as a user- and context-centric construct for framing practice.


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