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The use of soft systems methodology (SSM) in the management of library and information services: a review

Delbridge, Rachel and Fisher, Shelagh (2007) The use of soft systems methodology (SSM) in the management of library and information services: a review. ISSN 0143-5124

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Abstract

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to provide an overview of soft systems methodology (SSM) and review the ways in which the methodology has been applied by managers and researchers to gain a broad understanding of library and information service (LIS) activity. Design/methodology/approach – Seven detailed examples of the application of SSM to LIS activity show for each the aim, rationale for the use of SSM, operationalisation, findings and benefits of using SSM to understand problem situations. Findings – Analysis of the application of SSM in LIS contexts demonstrates the extent of its efficacy in learning and understanding in “problem situations” and the resultant changes to LIS activities. Practical implications – The paper draws together examples of studies which may prompt LIS professionals and researchers to consider the use of SSM in the management of LIS. Originality/value – An in-depth review of the processes and outcomes of the application of SSM to the understanding of LIS activity is provided.

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