Library anxiety and librarian humor: How to find Nessie

Rachel Hammer

Abstract

Library anxiety strikes even the most competent of students. While often discussed in the context of library orientation, library anxiety (a term coined by Constance Mellon) also relates to information literacy instruction. Communication between students and librarians forms the crux of instruction and an increase in comfort with the library. Robert Perret, reference and instruction librarian and first-year experience librarian at the University of Idaho, suggests that humor may play a role in this reduction of anxiety. While Perret acknowledges that future research could investigate this idea in more detail, his study did find that most librarians integrate humor into their information literacy instruction sessions through strategies including “puns, self-deprecation, and funny research topics.” Even groan-worthy puns, such as the advice to “always believe in your shelf,” can engage students. Encouraging students to look up the history of jackalopes or the contested reality of the Loch Ness monster can help students realize that research can—shockingly, I know—be fun.

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