The Emotional Basis of Library Anxiety

Erin L. McAfee

Abstract

In 1986, Constance Mellon found that 75 to 85 percent of underg raduate students experienced library anxiety as well as sham e about their anxiety. Fifteen y ears earlier, Helen Block Lewis began her groundbreaking research in shame theory. This paper explores the affective components of library anxiet y using the pioneering research of Constance Mellon, Helen Block Lewis and others. Two issues are discussed: 1) how unacknowledg ed, recursive shame or “shame about shame” creates painf ul, emotional states such as library anxiety; and 2) how to recognize and neutraliz e unacknowledged shame in library service interactions.

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