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Library anxiety & the iPad
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Library anxiety & the iPad



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  • Can anyone tell me what emotions these pictures represent? Many students feel foolish, cautious, frustrated and intimidated upon entering the library. Some of these students might turn around and go back to their dorm room, vowing to do the work themselves. Sherrod Library is lucky. We aren’t 8 floors tall. Our lobby doesn’t extend for what seemed like miles. Students see actual human faces when they walk into the building. Even though we are smaller than NC State’s library, we are still very large compared to what most freshman see in their home towns.
  • I know that I was one of these students, especially when I was at North Carolina State University for a year. Their main library was 8 floors tall. I was used to the smaller two story public library of my hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina. I went to the NC State library once my freshman year. Once. That’s it. I probably would have gone many more times had I felt more comfortable and welcomed. This experience was indicative of what would happen at the end of that year. I ended up transferring to Appalachian State University. Smaller school, smaller library. And I was in the music program, so the library was even smaller than my high school library. I was VERY comfortable there.
  • This was in 1986!!! Imagine what it’s like for students today. Especially ETSU students, who may have come from small towns with limited access to a large library.
  • Describe Sherrod Library in relation to these points and include your own experiences (MPHS library – ONE ROOM!)
  • I think one of our biggest problems is that students still think of librarians as the stereotypical librarian. Bun wearing, glasses wearing, shushers. Now, Nancy Pearl has her own librarian action figure (*show figure*). Was anyone at the 2008 TLA conference in Kingsport? Ms. Pearl gave the keynote address and even though I wasn’t even in library school yet, I wanted to hear her speak, so my boss was kind enough to let me go. I worked at the conference center, so it was easy to do. Anyway, Ms. Pearl made reference to her action figure. She said that many librarians were mad at her when it was made. They told her, “You have set the library profession back 40 years.” Ms. Pearl simply said “Listen, get a life.” She went on to say that it’s the second best selling action figure of all time. I think that means that most of us don’t take ourselves too seriously when it comes to this stereotype, but I do think a lot of people still look at us that way. Students are probably intimidated by us
  • I know that when I sit at the reference desk I always try to keep a smile on my face and acknowledge every person that walks by the desk with either a “hello” or just a quick smile. I know that if I needed help from someone, I would rather approach a smiling face than a frowning one.
  • Explain about working in circulation and student workers encountering students needing help looking for books, etc…. We always had to tell them to go find the nearest service desk for help. We never knew if they went or not.. My guess is not.Talk about advantages and disadvantages of iPad.
  • 1 – gate counts are up (Sherrod numbers have shown this. Heard from many librarians that most reference desk questions are directional in nature, or not in depth as we would hope or want)
  • **USE iPAD for example while talking about these things!!!**


  • 1. EAST TENNESSEE STATE UNIVERSITYLibrary Anxiety & the iPad“Google can bring you back 100,000 answers, a librarian can bringyou back the right one.” ~ Neil GaimanAlison L. DePolloInterlibrary Loan Librarian CandidateAugust 31, 2011
  • 2. How many students might feel:
  • 3. My first experience in an academic library:
  • 4.  75 - 85% of students described their initialresponse to library research as FEARThe Numbers & ResponsesAccording to Constance A. Mellon’s research:“This library stuff is confusing.”“Where are the reference books?”“Which card catalog do I use?There are so many drawers!”“It was like being in a foreigncountry and unable to speakthe language.”“The library seems like a hugemonster that gulps you up after youenter it.”
  • 5. Why do they feel this way? The size of the library is overwhelming They don’t know where materials are located orhow they are organized Lack of confidence in beginning their research Lack of research knowledge in general
  • 6. Part of it could be our fault …So, what do we do?
  • 7. It’s the little things that make a big difference.And one more thing…
  • 8. One tiny step for librarians…The Roving Librarian!…away from the Reference Desk.
  • 9. Why should we try this? Statistics show reference transactions are dropping butgate counts are not 158,294 (1997) vs. 95,568 (2003) Computers are in high demand – students do not want toleave them to come find us We have provided many news ways for students tocontact us, but are they using them? Email, chat, text-messaging“If these students won’t come to us,perhaps we should go to them.”~ Smith & Pietraszewski
  • 10.  Sherrod Library website Millennium catalog Databases LibGuides Access articles as PDFs Other apps Wolfram Alpha Bluefire ReaderWhat can RL do for students?
  • 11.  Gets us out from behind the desk Shows the students we want tohelp them Shows the students that we are not scary Librarians are easily accessible and “cool” Using the iPad lets us monitor any non-flash IMservice while in faculty meetings• MeeboWhat can RL do for librarians?
  • 12.  Wear a name tag or something that will set you apartfrom other patrons Do things that show you work at the library Straighten books, etc… Pay attention to body language of patrons Be friendly and have a smile on your faceWant to try it? Here’s some advice:
  • 13. Personal interest in RL Use Free Spreadsheet app tokeep track of statistics Use Penultimate app to take notesPoster session or presentation at TLA 2012 Article for Tennessee Libraries or anotherinterested journal
  • 14. Bibliography1. Carlile, Heather. 2007. “The Implications of Library Anxiety forAcademic Reference Services: A Review of the Literature.”Australian Academic & Research Libraries 38, no. 2: 129-147.2. Lotts, Megan and Stephanie Graves. 2011. “Using the iPad forReference Services: Librarians go Mobile.” College & ResearchLibraries 72, no. 4: 217-220.3. Mellon, Constance A. 1986. “Library Anxiety: A Grounded Theoryand Its Development.” College & Research Libraries 47, no 2: 160-165.4. Smith, Michael M. and Barbara A. Pietrasewski. 2004. “Enablingthe Roving Reference Librarian: Wireless Access with Tablet PCs.”Reference Services Review 32, no. 3: 249-255.