Community Problem Solving

Community Problem Solving-72
Research focusing on everyday life information situations (cf.Dervin, (1999) examined a range of theoretical frameworks for studying the use of networked community information.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.

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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.

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.

The larger research project, known as Information Behaviour in Everyday Contexts, was conducted between 20 by research teams at the University of Washington and the University of Michigan and sought: 'to conduct research on how people need, seek, give and use information for everyday living' and 'to identify best practice examples of how organizations foster the use of information' (Fisher & Durrance 2005).

Hartford was selected for the study after a search by the research team for a best-practice library whose staff had taken steps to anticipate the information needs of its community.

Finding that the library supported these activities we sought to understand its approach. Data were coded thematically around both information behavior concepts and themes germane to problem-solving activity.

A grounded theory approach was taken to capture aspects of the library staff's practice.

This article results from a qualitative study of 1) information behavior in community problem-solving framed as a distributed information use environment and 2) approaches used by a best-practice library to anticipate information needs associated with community problem solving. Several approaches to data collection were used—focus groups, interviews, observation of community and library meetings, and analysis of supporting documents.

We focused first on the information behavior of community groups.


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