As a (mostly retired) librarian, it troubles me that an article about library anxiety among college students has been getting quite a bit of play lately (at least in the library-related blogs and sites I follow). I understand the points made in the article, such as: finding the “right” building on a large campus can be confusing, students are used to using the internet (which “isn’t going to cut it” anymore), and the design and architecture of large campus libraries aren’t always welcoming.
I, myself, as a graduate student in a library master’s degree program hesitated to go to the biggest library on the UW Madison campus unless I really had to. (I am actually pretty ashamed of that fact now, but at the time I was very nervous about finding my way anywhere on campus, library or not. The population of the campus alone was larger than any city or village I had ever lived in.)
Nevertheless, there are ways libraries and librarians can ease library anxiety. To those discussed in the article (such as signage, outgoing librarians, and classroom visits), I would add getting children and teens into their school and public libraries. Yes, the college or university library will probably be larger and more confusing, but if they’re already comfortable with (and fond of!) another type of library, that should ease the transition.
Really, students, don’t be anxious about using the library. I promise, it won’t hurt a bit!