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SCIL Works 2019

SCIL Works 2019

Instruction RX: Prescriptions for Helping Students Overcome Library Anxiety

SCIL Works 2019 Program

This annual mini-conference offers librarians the opportunity to share their best practices, innovative pedagogy, and creative solutions with colleagues. SCIL Works 2019 will focus on the many ways in which instruction librarians help students from a variety of backgrounds overcome library anxiety.

Friday, February 8, 2019
10:00 am - 1:00 pm
California State University, Dominguez Hills
University Library, 5th Floor South
1000 E. Victoria St.
Carson, CA 90747
Directions to CSUDH

CARL Members $30 | Non-Members $45 | Students $15

Registration is Closed

Non-members, did you know that it's only $40 to join CARL? SCIL and other CARL interest groups provide great programming and opportunities to work with your fellow librarians.

CARL is committed to providing reasonable accommodations to people with disabilities at all CARL- sponsored events. Please indicate your special needs or dietary requirements when registering or RSVPing to events. Requests for special accommodations must be received at least two weeks prior to the event

Parking and Food
Parking on campus is $8, at the parking kiosk. The recommended parking lot is Lot 6 or 7.

Breakfast is provided, lunch is on your own, but the planning committee will provide some local recommendations so you can continue networking.


  • 9:00 - 9:45: Registration, Networking, Breakfast
  • 9:45 - 10:00: Welcome
  • 10:00 - 10:30: Research and Practice I
  • 10:30 - 11:00: Research and Practice II
  • 11:00 - 11:15: Break
  • 11:15 - 11:30: Lightning Rounds
  • 11:30 - 12:00: Research and Practice III
  • 12:00 - 12:15: Closing remarks and evaluations

SCIL would like to acknowledge California State University, Dominguez Hills for hosting this program.


Research and Practice

Jennifer Pierre, Kian Ravaei & Doug Worsham
(University of California, Los Angeles)
Intersecting surveys and fun: Reducing library anxiety through interactivity in a library poster survey series

This presentation will explore the role of interactivity and collaborative knowledge production in reducing library anxiety. Through a six-week interactive poster survey series and associated social media campaign, the UCLA Library Writing Instruction and Research Education team (WI+RE) gathered over 600 responses from an interdisciplinary group of library patrons on their strategies for approaching every stage of the research process, from conducting literature reviews to sharing research. The campaign was designed and produced by instructional design assistants at WI+RE with the help of instructional librarians across campus to boost student engagement and raise awareness of library help and resources. Users placed stickers next to one or more provided answer options on posters displayed in three campus libraries, some of which included links to library resources, and were also encouraged to write in additional options. Corresponding social media polls were posted each week, followed by short videos that summarized findings and highlighted specific library resources for popular answer choices. The series averaged 100 responses per week. Half of the weeks included original write-in options discussing influential library staff, unexpected research tactics, and even jokes. The informal and playful series design and flexible, encouraged interaction helped dissipate student preconceptions about expected library interaction. This process contributes to reduced library anxiety by creating a welcoming space and inviting mutual, beneficial, and lighthearted knowledge sharing and discovery (Westbrook & DeDecker, 1993; Muszcewicz, 2017). Additionally, the data collected can inform future library services, by providing insight into students' research processes through direct student involvement.

Yvonne Nalani Meulemans & Talitha Matlin (CSU San Marcos)
Nobody goes to the library when things are easy: library anxiety as a necessary component of research

There is a growing body of literature related to portraying the library as "fun" in order to encourage students to visit and use the library. During midterms and finals, academic libraries often strive to cultivate a relaxing atmosphere in hopes of providing students with a welcoming place where they can "de-stress." Certainly we want students to be welcomed to the library. However, the presenters have evidence that leads them to believe that portraying the library as "fun" and "relaxing" may result in increased levels of student anxiety towards research. Based upon anecdotal and theoretical evidence, the authors argue that this approach may actually hinder students' development of research skills and abilities. Librarians know that research is typically non-linear, confusing, and stressful. Cognitive-behavioral therapy for anxiety often includes recognizing, describing, and strategizing to address anxious situations and thoughts. Ignoring and/or dismissing such feelings can in fact cultivate more anxiety and rumination. Also, critical information literacy theory requires educators to place primacy on students' positionality within the power structures of higher education that may cultivate negative feelings. Lastly, the threshold concept framework provides a learning theory context that emphasizes "more knowledgeable other" roles in aiding students through confusion, frustration, and apathy. We argue that leveraging these feelings can be vital in developing students' research skills, habits, and dispositions necessary to be successful in other research endeavors. Presenters will share practical approaches to be used in reference and library instruction that allow librarians to aid students' surfacing of library (and related) anxiety.

Rebecca Greer (University of California, Santa Barbara)
"Libraries in Your Mind's Eye": Using Icebreakers to Build Classroom Community
In this presentation, participants will be introduced to the learning theory and utility of icebreakers in one-shot instruction sessions. A common challenge of one-shot instruction sessions is librarians do not have ample time to build rapport with students. By incorporating icebreakers students are able to engage in a low-stakes exercise with the librarian who can foster an open dialogue and promote participation in a library instruction session. This particular icebreaker, "Libraries in Your Mind's Eye," helps to build classroom community and informs the instructor of students' prior knowledge as well. This formative assessment, combined with a social constructivist approach to teaching, enables the librarian to position themselves as a confident and coach for student research needs. Participants attending this presentation will be provided with a demonstration of the icebreaker, a brief background on the learning theory that supports the use of icebreakers in the classroom, and a sampling of other icebreakers that can be easily incorporated into one-shot instruction sessions.

Lightning Rounds

Lindsay Davis & Maria Rosales (University of California, Merced)
Fiat Lux + Library: A First-Generation Workshop Series
The University of California, Merced is a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) with an undergraduate student body that is 73 percent first-generation. This short presentation will describe the UC Merced Library's burgeoning partnership with the University's Fiat Lux Scholars Program, a living-learning community for first-generation students whose mission "is to empower [...] students through intentionally structured services that ease their college transition..." Part of easing students into this transition is to introduce them to academic library services and resources, as well as the role of academic librarians in their college careers. Under the direction of Fiat Lux Coordinator Maria Rosales and input from the program's student mentors, Instruction & Outreach Librarian Lindsay Davis developed a four-part workshop series that centered around four questions: Why the Library?, What is a Scholarly Article?, How Do I Use Databases to Find Scholarly Articles?, and What is a Research Question? In an effort to draw more students to the workshops and assuage fears of "the Library", the series was held in a learning space in student housing rather than in the Library As with any new initiative, the series is not perfect, and changes will need to be made, but the partnership is a first step toward better supporting this subset of first-generation students.

Jillian Eslami & Maggie Clark (CSU Dominguez Hills)
Students, librarians, and a BuJo walk into a library classroom...
Students have a certain perception about librarians in the classroom. We are not quite professors, but might still be more intimidating than say a student research assistant. In creating workshops OUTSIDE of information literacy instruction, you can help create a new perspective for students. At my institution, we have attempted to create this new perspective by offering workshops centered around student success, rather than information literacy. The workshop my library presented to students was "Planning For Academic Success by Journaling", which was just a fancy way to introduce students to Bullet Journaling. While still somewhat academic in nature, this was a workshop that could be presented outside of the information literacy walls of the library classroom, but still be entirely relevant and useful to students beyond their school work. Offering workshops to students in this vein could help transform their perceptions of librarians and the library as a whole. Instead of only being a class that is required to take for a specific class, they can choose to participate in a library workshop in a more intrinsically inclined way. If a student suffers from library anxiety, by offering more informal, less about schoolwork and more about life, style workshop, the student's anxiety and perception of the library could begin to change.

Kelle Rose (Loyola Marymount University)
Alleviating Research Anxiety in Graduate Students: A Prescription for Success
Many incoming graduate students have been out of school for years and exhibit high anxiety around libraries, technology, and scholarly research. Because there is the expectation that graduate students should already know how to do research, they don't want to appear inept. Imposter syndrome is strong, though, and there is sometimes a significant gap in their skill set. Often the anxieties of this special population aren't entirely unfounded. One important strategy to combat library anxiety is the facilitation of a tiered structure that allows for an early relationship to develop between graduate students and their liaison librarian that can evolve along with their changing research needs. This multi-tiered instructional approach allows for an initial orientation that establishes the librarian as a friendly resource sanctioned by their professor, which can be followed by a later session covering research strategies and resources in-depth. There is no one-size-fits-all instruction due to the diverse and often interdisciplinary research topics of graduate students, so another important strategy is to offer individualized research consultations and workshops with customized tips tailored to their research topics. There are potential pitfalls to avoid, on the other hand, such as spending too much time teaching technology that isn't worth the students' investment (or the librarian's). This lightning talk will include strategies for reducing anxiety in graduate students who have been out of school for many years, as well as a few danger zones to watch out for.

Tessa Withorn (CSU Dominguez Hills)
Preparing Students for the Journey with an Online Research Road Map
You're at the library's homepage. Now what? Starting a research project in a new environment is a daunting task for first-year, transfer, and graduate students alike. In the unfamiliar landscape of a university library website, it's difficult to know what landmarks to look for, understand signs with library lingo, and anticipate the next bend in the road. Instead of expecting students to click through multiple tabs or skim blocks of text, visually representing the research process and linking to resources from one place can help students find a destination on their own. This lightening round offers one solution to addressing library anxiety by creating and promoting an online research road map with self-paced tutorials, videos, and infographics that guide students through the research process from start to finish. Framing information literacy concepts within tasks students associate with research like "starting your assignment," "using library resources," "reading and evaluating sources," and "writing about your research" connects resources with desired outcomes and empowers students sit in the driver's seat. I will describe my process for designing and promoting this guide, and how similar guides can be used to support students asynchronously and online, and during reference and instruction.

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