That term—library anxiety—is hardly a household name among students, but say it to a college librarian, and he or she will know exactly what you’re talking about. It’s the feeling that one’s research skills are inadequate and that those shortcomings should be hidden. In some students it’s manifested as an outright fear of libraries and the librarians who work there. To many librarians it’s a phenomenon as real as it is perplexing.
Library anxiety has been identified as a contributory factor to poor academic performance among students, and libraries are being challenged to give serious consideration to this phenomenon in order to develop strategies for reducing the problem. This study sought to determine if there were any indicators of the presence of library anxiety among a sample of 150 undergraduates in the faculty of Humanities and Education at the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus and some of the factors contributing to this condition. The findings indicated the presence of library anxiety of short-term duration among the students due to both personal and institutional factors. Some personal factors included a lack of the relevant information literacy skills, absence of previous library experience, ignorance of the capability and extent of the library information retrieval systems and confusion when trying to find their way around the library. Institutional factors
included the relatively large size of the library, the layout and organization of floors and collection,
unavailability of computers and lack of appropriate signage. Recommendations were made to help alleviate the problems that appear to have triggered library anxiety.
The authors provide us with the first in depth look at the origins and subsequent evolution of this fascinating field of study. If there are more nonusers than users in your community--or if you suspect your users could benefit more from the experience--let Library Anxiety ease your troubled hearts and smooth the way ahead.
Library Rx presents research findings on library anxiety in college and university students. There is strong evidence that library anxiety has a negative impact on undergraduate student performance. This books reviews research in this arena, describes discoveries of a research project on library anxiety, and presents ideas for the treatment of library anxiety.