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Library Anxiety: Information seeking behavior

Library anxiety is a real phenomenon that can hurt your ability to complete your coursework and do library research. This guide talks about what library anxiety is and about some ways to overcome it.

What is information seeking behavior?

  • Initiation, when a person first becomes aware of a lack of knowledge or understanding and feelings of uncertainty and apprehension are common.

  • Selection, when a general area, topic, or problem is identified and initial uncertainty often gives way to a brief sense of optimism and a readiness to begin the search.

  • Exploration, when inconsistent, incompatible information is encountered and uncertainty, confusion, and doubt frequently increase and people find themselves “in the dip” of confidence.

  • Formulation, when a focused perspective is formed and uncertainty diminishes as confidence begins to increase.

  • Collection, when information pertinent to the focused perspective is gathered and uncertainty subsides as interest and involvement deepens.

  • Presentation, when the search is completed with a new understanding enabling the person to explain his or her learning to others or in some way put the learning to use.

  • Assessment, when the work is done there is a sense of accomplishment and increased self-awareness.

Excerpted from Carol Collier Kuhlthau's Information Search Process. Used by permission.

Carol Kuhlthau's information search process model

Information seeking behavior model

Library anxiety in information seeking

Dr. Valerie Nesset on information behavior