Library Anxiety? Is that a thing?

Did you know that when many people walk into a library they feel intimidated and anxious? Library anxiety is real, and has been well-documented by the library field. What is library anxiety? It is the sense that one should know all about libraries, know how to do research, know how to find both physical and electronic resources, and that not knowing how to do these thing is shameful and should be hidden. Grand reading rooms like the one below, and the idea that a student is surrounded by centuries of knowledge, can often be intimidating rather than inspirational.

Picture of study tables at the reading room in the Hunt Library, NCSU
Quiet Reading Room of the James B. Hunt, Jr. Library, North Carolina State University

Now there is research that suggests another phenomena prevalent among first-year students: overconfidence that they understand the library and how things work, and so library instruction or help is unnecessary. It is thought that this overconfidence comes stems from the use of Google and other search engines for any kind of information need. Students know how to search in a general search engine, and assume that those skills translate 1:1 into the research world. The truth is that they do, but those search abilities are only one piece of what is needed. There’s a lot more to research than just picking out good search terms or knowing how to use quotes around a search phrase.

You can learn more about library anxiety in this article from JSTOR Daily.

Libraries can be a little intimidating at first, but they are friendly, welcoming places, and R-MC Librarians are excited to help you learn your way around. In fact for many of us, working with students remains our favorite part of this job. Being asked to help a student with a project is never a bother!

If you have a final paper or project coming up and you aren’t sure about your topic, research question, or your sources, schedule an appointment with a research librarian at https://rmc.libcal.com/appointments.

Or, join us for our LNAP event (Long Night Against Procrastination) on May 7, 7-11pm! Bring your topic, project, idea, or paper with with you, no appointment needed, and Prof. Treneman and I will be there to help.

Library anxiety may be a thing, but it doesn’t have to hold you back!

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