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"Library Anxiety in the Health Library Context." E. Carney. I. Ruthven. Department of Computer and Information Sciences, University of Strathclyde. 2019. Download PDF (BibTeX) ILS

Library anxiety is a distinct form of state-anxiety, brought on by library use or the consideration of visiting a library. Those who experience it feel fearful, intimidated, and uneasy when faced with using a library, often resulting in library avoidance. Thus far, library anxiety research has been almost exclusively based in the academic library setting, where it has been found to affect a wide variety of students. Due to limited research outside of this sector, it is unclear whether other types of libraries invoke such negative emotions. Additionally, a number of studies have considered health library use/non-use, but none of these have specifically studied library anxiety amongst healthcare staff. Given the similarity of health and academic libraries, which are both mainly used for formal learning and research, a consideration of whether library anxiety exists in the health library sector would be beneficial.

Focussing on NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC), the aim of this dissertation is to consider whether library anxiety is present amongst NHSGGC staff. Moreover, the study aims to uncover any barriers to use of the NHSGGC Library Network, and also to explore how more use of the libraries could be facilitated or encouraged. A mixed methods approach was taken, comprised of a questionnaire which received 566 responses, and follow-up interviews with 12 questionnaire respondents.

Overall, the quantitative data indicated that library anxiety is generally low amongst respondents, however the qualitative data suggested clear traces of it in particular areas. These were mainly to do with a poor understanding of what the Library Network does and who is allowed to use it. Additionally, many people were found to be embarrassed over their perceived poor ability to use the library. It was also discovered that many respondents are apathetic towards the library, placing limited value on the service. Other than library anxiety, lack of time and confusion over how to gain access were main barriers. Lastly, complaints over noise levels and a lack of guidance on this was found to be off-putting. In terms of implications for practice, participants would value having stronger links with individual library staff. There also seems to be a need for increased promotion of the Library Network, and for the libraries to offer induction sessions. Lastly, there is discussion of the libraries becoming more ‘social’ spaces. All of these things were outlined by participants as changes that would make library use easier or more appealing to them. The overall conclusion is that while library anxiety is low, there are definite areas where changes could be made to ensure all NHSGGC are more able to use the service and feel comfortable doing so.