Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Did you say Library Anxiety? - Part One :: Essays Papers

Did you say Library Anxiety? - Part One Most people are familiar with the terms test anxiety, math anxiety, performance anxiety, computer anxiety, or even social anxiety. But mention "library anxiety" and you'll likely get a response similar to, "Library what?" Library anxiety is not a well-known phenomenon, even among librarians. The bulk of research on library anxiety has concentrated on the problem as it applies to university students, but it’s not hard to imagine that it manifests itself in library patrons across the board. Where did this idea come from, how can librarians identify it, what steps can be taken to reduce it and what can the library community learn from it? Although it has been cited in the literature as far back as 1972 , the term library anxiety was first identified in 1986 by Constance A. Mellon. Virtually every article or study on the subject since then has referenced Mellon’s work in this area. Her studies showed that most students felt that other students knew more about library searching than they did and that to ask for help would be to reveal their stupidity. She also found that contact with reference librarians was more effective in alleviating library anxiety than the bibliographic instruction sessions conducted by their teachers. There are other names in the field such as Carol C. Kuhlthau, who found that students’ ability to process information from the aspects of mental, creative and physical locating operations is hampered by their feelings, thoughts, and actions. In 1992, Sharon L. Bostick devised a valid and reliable instrument to measure Mellon’s theory of library anxiety. The basis of her doctoral dissertation, she developed a 43 item, 5 point Likert-format test instrument that defines levels of library anxiety. Her instrument showed that it is possible to identify library anxiety and to measure it quantitatively. She identified five factors that contribute to library anxiety: 1) Affective Barriers; 2) Mechanical Barriers; 3) Comfort with the Library; 4) Knowledge of the Library; and 5) Barriers with staff. "Affective barriers" measures the feelings of adequacy when using the library. As we will see, affective barriers come in to play with all of the other factors, each of which will be described in greater detail. Mechanical Barriers: The ability to locate and use library equipment is hampered by the physical barriers libraries present. Students search for copy machines and upon locating them they learn that they need specific change to use them, or must purchase a copy card.

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