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Students at the university level may be anxious about using the campus library for research. This anxiety can stem from an unfamiliar cataloging (LC) system, the overwhelming size of the building and/or the collection, unfamiliarity with doing scholarly research, or a combination of these factors and others. Approaching the main reference desk, particularly if it is located in a high-traffic area, and admitting that you need help finding a book, an article, or even where the bathroom is, can be nerve wracking and so may be avoided by the student. This avoidance can lead to the student wandering aimlessly through the stacks, unable to find the information or location s/he needs which can lead to frustration and can negatively impact how students view the library. To combat this anxiety, we have started a Roving Reference program that utilizes our student workers at the information desk. Armed with iPads, these student workers, all of whom are graduate students in the LIS program, rove each floor of the library looking for students who may be in need of assistance. We have frequently used sites bookmarked and helpful apps preloaded on the iPads to assist the graduate student rovers. We have training sessions each semester to discuss best practices – such as how to recognize who needs help and how to approach and interact proactively with the students. This roving program helps both the anxious student in the stacks find what s/he needs and also helps to teach the LIS student worker how to conduct a reference interview away from the desk.

This poster was originally presented at the Alabama Library Association annual conference in Point Clear, AL, April 2015.

Publication Date



Undergraduate, First year, anxiety, student workers, training


Information Literacy | Library and Information Science

Roving Reference: Combating Library Anxiety by Extroverting the Reference Desk



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