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An illustrative application of soft systems methodology (SSM) in a library and information service context: process and outcome

Delbridge, Rachel (2008) An illustrative application of soft systems methodology (SSM) in a library and information service context: process and outcome. ISSN 0143-5124

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Abstract

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to provide an illustration of the methodological processes and resultant outcomes relating to one theme investigated during an application of soft systems methodology (SSM) in a library and information service (LIS) context, in order to contribute to the explication of the methodology to LIS professionals. Design/methodology/approach – A selective but detailed description of the use of SSM is provided in relation to case study research undertaken at a UK law firm, which included, within the framework of SSM, the conduct of interviews with 42 legal and information practitioners. Findings – The described application of SSM is a demonstration of its use for structuring learning in situations: in this instance, of a developed understanding of stakeholders' views of appropriate LIS activity in a law firm. Research limitations/implications – The paper is a selective representation of the first use of SSM by a researcher and demonstrates the methodology's applicability to any situation about which learning is considered to be desirable. Practical implications – The paper provides an illustrative application of SSM which may prompt the use of, or may contribute to understanding of, the methodology by LIS practitioners, researchers and educators. Originality/value – The paper provides an in-depth illustration of the SSM-informed processes and outcomes in a novel application area.

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