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Informed Systems

By: , Posted on: June 23, 2015


More than a dozen years ago, I entered academic library administration. Technological advances had already begun to erode libraries’ traditional mission and established position on higher education campuses. In that traditional environment, library work was, by and large, consistent and unchanging, governed by well organized professional principles and practices fulfilled through an entrenched organizational hierarchy.

Into this orderly and ordered world came digitized art and streaming video; e-journals, e-books, and online newspapers; data sets and digital tools – all of which have dramatically changed academic user expectations and higher education experiences. Formats, creators, and publishers continue to rapidly proliferate, irrevocably altering traditional knowledge creation, discovery, and access practices and introducing disruptive procurement legalities, business models, and fiscal complexities.

From my viewpoint, as I moved from Assistant Dean to Associate Dean and then University Librarian, it was clear that contemporary library organizations must develop workplace environments that enable nimble decision-making and action taking. In response, I exercised my professional librarian skills to identify promising sources of insight (like Christine Bruce’s informed learning theories) and practice (such as Peter Checkland’s participatory co-design processes). Then, with library colleagues, I harvested this scholarship from across the globe to make practical improvements in local situations. Results are reported in my forthcoming book, Somerville, M. M. (2015). Informed Systems: Organizational design for learning in action. Oxford, England: Chandos Publishing. ISBN 978-0081001752.

informed systems

Informed Systems advances organizational learning through participatory design of information technology and human communication systems. Within this enabling infrastructure, information animates learning. Information experiences coalesce shared vision and exercise systems thinking. Collaborative evidence-based decision making activities ensure essential information transfer and knowledge creation, as workers evolve professional practices that use information to learn. This holistic framework creates transformative opportunities to reinvent professional purposes and revitalize workplace outcomes.

I’m pleased to share Chapter 4, Informed Systems Implementation, with you so that you can learn more about this transferable approach for organizational resiliency in today’s fast paced world.

Download (PDF, 1.49MB)

About the Author:

Mary M. SomervilleMary Somerville is University Librarian and Professor at the University of Colorado Denver and Library Director at the Auraria Library, a tri-institutional organization serving the University of Colorado Denver, Metropolitan State University of Denver, and Community College of Denver.

Upcoming Presentations:

ALA Annual Conference at Elsevier booth #504 – Library Learning Trends

  • Saturday, June 27, 11:00 am: Informed Systems by Mary M. Somerville
  • Saturday, June 27, 3:00 pm: Copyright Librarianship by Linda Frederiksen
  • Sunday, June 28, 11:00 am: Information Throughout the Ages by Debra Lucas-Alfieri

ALA Annual Conference

Elsevier is hosting a free luncheon and speaker event on Saturday, June 27, 12-1:30 pm, Data-driven Decision Making in the Library and Beyond:

  • Anne Mitchell, Head of Acquisitions, University of Texas at San Antonio Libraries, and Mary Somerville, University Librarian and Professor at University of Colorado Denver, will discuss how they use information to shape decisions and how to share this information outside the library to further align strategic goals.
  • Location: Parc 55 San Francisco (a Hilton Hotel), Mission Room — 4th floor, 55 Cyril Magnin Street, San Francisco, CA 94102, a 10-minute walk from Moscone Convention Center
  • Registration required here

If you would like to purchase a copy of the book, Informed Systems, visit the Elsevier Store. Apply Discount Code STC215 for up to 30% off the list price and free global shipping. For a limited time, all Library Information Science books are also available using the discount code.


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Social Sciences

The general scope of social sciences is vast, and Elsevier’s collection of journals, books, and eBooks examine in detail a wide range of topics in this area, from sociology, law, and cognitive science to political science, education, and linguistics. Our Chandos imprint in particular, known for high-quality scholarship in Asian studies, library and information science, and business management, reflects Elsevier’s continuing commitment to these crucial areas of study.