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What is Library Anxiety?‚Äč

Adult with Books

Definition

"In broad terms, library anxiety is described as 'an uncomfortable feeling or emotional disposition, experienced in a library setting, which has cognitive, affective, physiological, and behavioral ramifications' (Jiao et al., 1996)."

Adapted from:

Onwuegbuzie, Anthony J., Qun G. Jiao, and Sharon L. Bostick. Library Anxiety: Theory, Research, and Applications. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2004.

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Symptoms and Components

Student at a computer

Symptoms of Library Anxiety:

  • Emotional or physical discomfort when faced with any library or library-related task (Kuhlthau 1988, 1991; Mellon 1986, 1988, 1989; Onwuegbuzie 1997)
  • Increased heart rate, respiration rate, blood pressure (Onwuegbuzie 1997)
  • Apprehension, frustration, learned helplessness (Onwuegbuzie 1997)
  • Tension, fear, uneasiness, negative self-defeating thoughts, feeling of uncertainty, mental disorganization (Kuhlthau 1988, 1991)
  • When searching for books, library users may misread or overlook signs and maps, misinterpret directions and cues, refrain from asking for help, and give up their search quickly (Keefer 1993, Kuhlthau 1988, 1991)

Five Dimensions of Library Anxiety: From Bostick 1992

  1. Barriers with Staff: Librarians and other library staff are perceived as intimidating, unapproachable, and inaccessible
  2. Affective Barriers: Students’ feeling of ineptness, inadequacy, and incompetency about using the library
  3. Comfort with the Library: How safe, secure, welcoming and non-threatening students perceive the library to be
  4. Knowledge of the Library: How familiar with the library students feel they are
  5. Mechanical Barriers: Students’ reliance on mechanical library equipment, including computers, printers, copiers, scanners, and other machines

Adapted from:

Onwuegbuzie, Anthony J., Qun G. Jiao, and Sharon L. Bostick. Library Anxiety: Theory, Research, and Applications. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2004.

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