Skip to Main Content

Don't Panic! Using the Library for Academic Success: Home

The purpose of this guide is to provide direction for relieving library anxiety and understanding how to use the library's resources for academic success.

What is Library Anxiety?

Beating Library Anxiety

If you feel library anxiety, you are not alone! As many as 85% of students experience fear when approaching the library. How can you overcome this feeling? Understanding the library and using the following tips can help you overcome your fear. 

  • Understand the research process. Asking for help is a part of the research process. By knowing the steps, you can reduce fear of the unknown. Check out our library tutorials for guidance on everything from narrowing a topic, search strategies, and evaluating sources.
  • Explore the library. Familiarize yourself with the space before you visit for research. This can help you feel more physically comfortable in the library. Review our Accessibility and Accommodations page for more information for people with disabilities.
  • Know your librarians. Your subject librarian can help point you in the right direction for your research. Help is available 24/7.
  • Recognize your own strengths and talents. You already have your own talents and life experience to draw on. Think about how these unique strengths can help you in the research process to build confidence. 
  • Talk to someone. Consider asking a friend to come with you to the library, or ask your instructor for guidance. 
  • Check out our virtual resources. Our website, email, and 24/7 chat service are available to help you look for information before you visit or for students in online programs. We also have online research guides for every program of study at St. Kate's.
  • Take deep breaths. You will likely need a lot of time to complete your research project. That's okay! Slowing down and taking a few calming breaths can help you relax and focus.
  • Read the articles or books listed below for more tips!

Wellness Resources - Books and Articles

Mental Health Resources at St. Kate's

Library anxiety may be a specific fear that is isolated to using the library, or it may be related to other anxieties in your life. The St. Kate's Library offers anxiety-relieving activities several times during the semester. Check our calendar for dates and times for the following. 

  • Therapy animals: The Library occasionally hosts study breaks with a variety of therapy animals (dogs, cats, and even a miniature horse!).
  • DeStress Fest: Finals week activities to help you de-stress. 

The Library also provides space for Let's Talk! You can meet with a St. Kate's counselor for an brief confidential consultation in Library Room 127D, Monday-Friday, 1:00-2:00 pm. No scheduling necessary, just drop in! You can also request a virtual Let's Talk meeting here

Visit the St. Kate's Counseling Center for counseling and mental health services. In addition to on-campus and off-campus counseling resources, the counseling center offers resources for mental health and wellness, anxiety relief, and test anxiety. Check out links for some of the resources below: 

  • Mental Health Resource Guide: Find resources on a variety of topics, including overthinking, stress relief, and test anxiety. 
  • Guided Meditation: A 10-minute guided meditation for self-love and compassion
  • Podcasts: The Counseling Center's recommendations for podcasts on a variety of mental health topics. 

For urgent mental health support, contact a mental health emergency resource such as:

  • St. Kate's 24/7/365 Crisis Counseling line (in partnership with ProtoCall): dial 651-690-6805 and press 1 at the prompt
  • Ramsey County Urgent Care for Adult Mental Health (651-266-7900)
  • The National Crisis Text Line (text HOME to 741741)
  • National Suicide Prevention Hotline 800-273-8255.

Guide Feedback

What's Your Library Comfort Level?

Understand Your Starting Point

Unsure if you have library anxiety? The following quiz, based on Sharon L. Bostick's Library Anxiety Scale, may help you understand your initial comfort level with the library. No matter how you answer these questions, it can help to name your feelings and understand that they occur across a spectrum. 

Start by taking the quiz below. Rate how strongly you agree with each statement along the following scale. 1 = Strongly Disagree, 2 = Disagree, 3 = Neither Agree Nor Disagree, 4 = Agree, 5 = Strongly Agree. When you have answered all the questions, add the point values for each question. Then, click to the "Results" tab to see your starting point.

After you look through our resources about library anxiety, take the quiz again and see if your score changes. 

I don't know how to find my way around the library.
1: 1 votes (50%)
2: 0 votes (0%)
3: 0 votes (0%)
4: 1 votes (50%)
5: 0 votes (0%)
Total Votes: 2
The librarians are difficult to find and approach.
1: 0 votes (0%)
2: 0 votes (0%)
3: 0 votes (0%)
4: 1 votes (100%)
5: 0 votes (0%)
Total Votes: 1
If I ask for help, I'm afraid that I'll be judged or shamed.
1: 0 votes (0%)
2: 0 votes (0%)
3: 1 votes (100%)
4: 0 votes (0%)
5: 0 votes (0%)
Total Votes: 1
I don't know how to begin my research.
1: 0 votes (0%)
2: 1 votes (100%)
3: 0 votes (0%)
4: 0 votes (0%)
5: 0 votes (0%)
Total Votes: 1
I can't find what I am looking for on the library website.
1: 0 votes (0%)
2: 1 votes (100%)
3: 0 votes (0%)
4: 0 votes (0%)
5: 0 votes (0%)
Total Votes: 1

If you scored... 

Between 20-25: Library anxiety may strongly impact your research process and, in turn, your academic success. Take a look at our tips for beating library anxiety and our research process tutorial to help break down these barriers, or set an appointment with your subject librarian to ask for guidance.

Between15-19: You may find the library intimidating enough to impact your research and see the library as a last resort. Take a look at our ways to beat library anxiety and see if any will be helpful. 

Between 10-14: You are likely somewhat comfortable using the library, but your research could benefit from a little more knowledge about how to use library resources. 

Between 5-9: You might be a librarian! 

Dispelling Librarian Stereotypes

Image: Watterson, B. (1988). [Cartoon]. Something under the bed is drooling. Andrews and McMeel.

Librarians are often portrayed in media as strict, humorless, and intimidating. Perhaps you've even had a prior library experience where you were shushed, judged for an overdue book, or otherwise scolded. Having a bad experience can make it hard to ask for help again. 

Whether you've been influenced by librarian portrayals in popular culture, a negative prior experience or you're simply intimidated to talk to a new librarian, it can help to remember that librarians are not stereotypes. You will always receive friendly help at the St. Kate's library. 

Meet Your Friendly Research Librarians

Anne Beschnett

Biology, Chemistry, Exercise & Sports Science, Health & Medicine, Leganto, Mathematics, Nutrition & Dietetics, Physics, Public Health, Sciences, TRW

Cindy Graham

Health & Medicine, Nursing, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, Physician Assistant, Radiography, Sonography

Preeti Gupton

Core, Education, Library & Information Science, Psychology, TRW

Amy Mars

ASL & Interpreting Studies, Communication Studies, Computers & Technology, English & Literature, GSJ, History, International Relations, Languages, Philosophy, Theology & Religion, TRW, Women's Studies

Lizzy Tegeler

Art & Art History, Critical Studies in Race & Ethnicity, Economics, Family & Consumer Science, International Relations, Law, Organizational Leadership, Political Science, Sociology, TRW

Author George M. Johnson

Sue Gray

Business, Core, Fashion Design & Merchandising, Holistic Health Studies, Social Work

Stress Relief Playlist

©2024 St. Catherine University Library, St. Paul, Minnesota, USA

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License