What about non-behavior?

If information seeking behavior is the generic term that we use to lump together all actions that result in information acquisition (Erdelez, 1999), then what about non-actions? What about those people who do nothing? Is that non-behavior? And is that non-behavior then really a behavior in itself?

Perhaps by now you can begin to see the path my mind has spiraled down as I consider the information needs and behaviors of socially anxious college students.

Considering the needs of these students seems fairly obvious. They have the same information needs as virtually every college student. They need access to information and research to support their studies, access to books, journals and databases and assistance finding and using these resources. They need access to new and popular items, media, and other leisure materials. Additionally, they need access to librarians, forums, and other support systems.

The challenge with this information community is in crossing the barriers built by anxiety – social anxiety and, specifically, library anxiety – so that the group can take advantage of available resources. Library anxiety refers to a unique phenomenon, specific to libraries, involving negative and uncomfortable feelings experienced when using or considering the use of the library. These can include feelings of uncertainty, confusion, frustration, doubt, embarrassment, nervousness, self-defeating thoughts, helplessness, and inadequacy. It is important  not only to understand that this is very real, but to identify sources of anxiety and those who are most susceptible to it, in order to attempt to reduce those barriers (Carlile, 2007).

Differences in the way that information is sought out have long been connected to both information need and motive, depending very much on context and task. Some research has also considered cognitive abilities and styles as well as feelings in relation to information seeking (Heinstrom, 2004).Studies have shown that “everyday life information needs and seeking are affected by a number of cognitive, emotional, cultural, and situational factors” (Savolainen, 2009).Personality can be an influential variable in information seeking behavior.Personality differences have even been acknowledged to influence the way that databases are searched. Both shyness and weak self-esteem can initially bear a negative impact on search outcomes (Heinstrom, 2004).

Students who face social and/or library anxiety may seek out information differently than other more confident, extroverted students. They may not initially seek information at all. This sort of non-behavior could, in fact, be an anticipated response of some students experiencing these feelings of anxiety. In an effort to meet the needs of this community of students, the academic library needs to seek to reduce barriers, be sensitive, and to reach out to this population. “The feelings a student has about the library can influence whether or not they ask for help, how they approach their search for information, and how they respond to any obstacles they encounter in the library environment” (Carlile, 2007).


Carlile, H. (2007). The implications of library anxiety for academic reference services:A review of the literature. Australian  Academic & Research Libraries, 38(2), pp. 129-147.

Erdelez, S. (1999). Information encountering: It’s more than just bumping into information. Bulletin of the American Society for Information Science 25(3). Retrieved from http://libaccess.sjlibrary.org/login?url=http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/bult.118

Heinstrom, J. (2004). Fast surfing, broad scanning, and deep diving: The influence of personality and study approach on students’ information seeking behavior. Journal of Documentation, 61(2), pp. 228-247. doi:10.1108/00220410510585205

Savolainen, R. (2009). Everyday life information seeking. In Encyclopedia of Library and Information Sciences. http://libaccess.sjlibrary.org/login?url=http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1081/E-ELIS3-120043920#.U2FyPVfcfro

Let’s do a book review.

Book Review: Quiet: The power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking


Image retrieved from http://thehelpsychgazette.com/main/tag/psychology/

Quiet: The power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking is about people who prefer listening to speaking, reading to partying, and working alone to brainstorming in teams. It is about the people who are often labeled “quiet”, the introverts. It is about people I very strongly identify with.

Author Susan Cain, a self-proclaimed introvert, says that one-third to one-half of the people we know are introverts. Her book cites many examples of people who have made major contributions who were in fact shy, quiet, introverts. People such as Vincent van Gogh, Rosa Parks, Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton, Dr. Seuss, Steven Spielberg, Gandhi, and many more. The stories of such introverts contribute to a well researched and well argued point that introverts are undervalued.

Yet the book is not about the bashing of the extrovert. It espouses that extraversion is good, but that we have made it into an “oppressive standard” which we expect introverts to conform to.

Cain talks about this as the Extrovert Ideal and the effects that it has, addressing society’s bias against introversion. She writes about American business culture and American schools and forced collaboration. From childhood we are taught that to be social is to be happy and introversion has come to be viewed as “somewhere between a disappointment and pathology.” Cain explains that introverts can actually be very good in areas where extroverts are often expected or preferred. For example, introverts can actually make good leaders because they are good listeners and often more willing to accept the input of others.

Reading the book actually led me to look up the author’s Ted Talk as well as an npr interview with the author. Seeing her on the stage and hearing her speak about this topic was rather enlightening. She used many of the same examples from her book. It was however, what she had to say about herself that was so interesting. She walked onto the stage holding a bag. She proceeded to share the story of being sent to camp as a child and taking a suitcase of books which ended up being hidden under her bed for the summer. She then opened her suitcase to reveal what she had packed… books. Her point was that we should not be ashamed of what is in our suitcase. We all have something valuable to contribute.

This had me thinking about how introverts and extroverts seek information differently and how they interact in the library differently. Perhaps the extrovert boldly walks up to the service desk and asks for exactly what they need, while the introvert ferrets out the information from the library website, or texts a librarian, or even quietly approaches the service desk to ask for instructions they intently listen to. While the extrovert may easily and readily engage in an annual library party with music and games and prize drawings, the introvert may be more drawn to Stress Free Zone activities or a Blind Date with a Book display. Library professionals need to be aware that different types of people approach things differently and seek and accept assistance differently. Most importantly, library professionals need to have an acceptance that this is okay.

The premise behind this book and the thoughts that it provoked actually inspired my interest in the information community I have chosen to look at this semester, the socially anxious college student. While introversion and social anxiety are not the same, this is where my thought process took me. From the introverted individual to the student experiencing library anxiety. It may be a bit of a stretch from the topic of the book to the topic of my research but the connection is there.

I would definitely recommend this book to others. I would also recommend checking out Susan Cain’s Ted Talk and her npr interview. While I can not say that I agree with every point made by the author, I do find the topic fascinating and many of her arguments valid.


Cain, S. (2012). Quiet: The power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking. New York: Crown Publishers



Socially Anxious College Students Can Be Their Own Information Community…

Most people can say that they have heard of various forms of anxiety, including social anxiety. Most have felt the effects of some form of anxiety at one time or another, while others battle it every moment of every day.

Many college students suffer from varying forms and degrees of social anxiety. One specific type of social anxiety is library anxiety. Considering my interest in academic librarianship, I have chosen to look at socially anxious college students as an information community. “Information communities form primarily around people’s needs to get and use information” (Fisher & Bishop, 2015). I am interested to explore the information needs and behaviors of these college students and how academic libraries can better serve them while alleviating their library anxiety.

Fisher & Bishop (2015) quote Joan Durrance as defining information communities as “constituencies united by common interest in building and increasing access to a set of dynamic, linked, and varying information resources.” Durrance is further quoted as saying that such a group “blurs the boundaries between information seekers, users, and providers, recognizing that a single person or institution can embody multiple segments of the information cycle” (Fisher & Bishop, 2015). It is clear from my preliminary research that those who suffer from social anxiety could be referred to as such a group. In focusing on the academic setting, I have narrowed that group to those college students who find themselves facing social anxieties, specifically library anxiety. Through my research I will seek to determine just what library anxiety is, who faces it, and how it can be addressed.

It is my opinion that by emphasizing the key characteristics of any information community, academic libraries could seek to deter library anxiety by bringing students facing these social anxieties together. “Information communities form mainly around people’s needs to use information from distributed information resources” (Fisher & Durrance, 2003.) These are exactly the needs of any student. Making it easier for those students facing these challenges is my interest. Fisher & Durrance (2003) state that “Information communities “emphasize collaboration among diverse groups that provide information and may share joint responsibility and resources.” I hope to find out how these students may be doing this on their own and what the library can do to help. Fisher & Durrance (2003) also state that information communities “exploit the information sharing qualities of technology and yield multiplier effects for stakeholders.” Through scholarly research as well as surveys of college students, I hope to determine what, if any, technologies (i.e. blogs, forums, listservs, etc) may be used or could be established by and/or for these students. Information communities “anticipate and often form around people’s needs to access and use information in ways that people perceive as helpful” (Fisher & Durrance 2003).  To that end, I seek to establish what is and would be most helpful in order to “remove barriers to information about acquiring needed services and participating in civic life”  as well as to “foster social connectedness within the larger community” (Fisher & Durrance 2003).  The ultimate goal is to establish that this s in fact an information community that the academic library should be seeking to better serve in order to support the success of individual students and the overall retention and graduation goals of the institution (i.e. university) it serves.


Fisher, K., & Durrance, J. (2003). Information communities. In K. Christensen, & D. Levinson (Eds.), Encyclopedia of community: From the village to the virtual world. (pp. 658-661). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.

Fisher, K. & Bishop, A.P. Information communities: Defining the focus of information service. In S. Hirsh (Ed.) Information services today:An introduction (pp. 20 – 26).Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield.

Let’s try this again.

Well, hello. If you have looked at my previous posts, you have likely noted that this is not my first go at INFO (LIBR) 200. There were some technical difficulties with the first go around, so here I am again.

For anyone who hasn’t scrolled through previous posts, here is a recap of me:

“My name is Elisha Wells (pronounced like Alicia). I live in Greenup County, Kentucky. I work as a Library Specialist at Clark Memorial Library at Shawnee State University in Portsmouth, Ohio. I started out as a student reference assistant while working on my undergrad. After graduating with a BA in Social Science in 2011, I was hired on as the part time Government Documents Clerk. I am now the Cataloger. I am interested in academic librarianship.”

I have to say I really enjoyed this class the first time and felt that I learned a lot about Deaf Culture as an information community. Now to decide on a new community to research… I have a few ideas, it’s just narrowing it down to one. I’m really looking forward to this semester.