Technostress and the Reference Librarian
by John Kupersmith
This article originally appeared in Reference Services Review
20 (Summer 1992), 7-14,50.

© 1992 John Kupersmith -- All rights reserved.
Posted on WWW with consent of Pierian Press. Fair use
(e.g., for individual research or classwork) is encouraged.



"Technostress" (computer-related stress), a common problem
for reference librarians in the 1990s, is a combination of
performance anxiety, information overload, role conflicts,
and organizational factors.  This article analyzes the
phenomenon and suggests individual coping strategies and
organizational management strategies.

     "Things are in the saddle, and ride mankind."

                         -- Ralph Waldo Emerson [1]

Rapid technological change has become a fact of life in the
libraries of the 1990s.  While this change touches all parts
of the library organization, nowhere is it more visible, or
its effects more keenly felt, than in reference departments.
Consider these "snapshots"--fictional, but real enough:
  • A librarian begins a mediated online search session by apologizing to the user: "I hardly ever do this any more. Most people just search on the CD-ROMs." During the search, he mistakenly downloads too large a file, resulting in a "disk full" error.
  • A user comes to the reference desk with a question that could be answered in five minutes with a "ready reference" database search. As the librarian hesitates, trying to decide whether to go online for this user, she sees three others waiting for help: one whose CD-ROM printer has evidently jammed, one who is waving from an online catalog terminal, and another who is carrying a volume of L'Annee Philologique.
  • A new, multi-function telephone system has just been installed in the department. Considerable training is needed to use it properly. When the phone rings, the staff's first reaction, as one describes it, is to "freeze like rabbits."
  • Two reference librarians meet at a conference on "End-User Searching in the Year 2000." Within a few minutes, the conversation turns to the question of whether they will still have jobs in ten years.
Each of these scenarios portrays a mixed blessing: the dramatic and liberating benefits of information technology, coupled with new time demands, knowledge/skill deficiencies, and the resulting psychological pressure.
One name for this kind of pressure is technostress. Craig Brod, who may have coined the term and certainly brought it into the popular consciousness, defines technostress as:
"... a modern disease of adaptation caused by an inability to cope with the new computer technologies in a healthy manner. It manifests itself in two distinct and related ways: in the struggle to accept computer technology, and in the more specialized form of overidentification with computer technology." [2]
The most commonly studied aspects of technostress are machine-based stress (physical and psychological, caused by poor ergonomics, badly designed software, etc.); computer anxiety; and computer obsession. The populations most often studied in the mainstream psychological literature are clerical and office workers, professionals, executives, home computer users, hackers, students, and adolescents. [3]
The effects of technostress on librarians have been studied by Bichteler, Champion, Dobb, and Sievert et al. [4] Among the many discussions of the related problem of resistance to technological change in libraries, those by Fine, Malinconico, Luguire, and Giesbrecht and McCarthy are especially relevant. [5]
While reference librarians are as prone as anyone to suffer from poor ergonomics or badly-designed software, and while some certainly become obsessively involved in overidentification with the computer, the technostress phenomenon of greatest interest here is "computer anxiety." Brod's elaboration on this term seems to ring true for many librarians:
"The primary symptom of those who are ambivalent, reluctant, or fearful of computers is anxiety. This anxiety is expressed in many ways: irritability, headaches, nightmares, resistance to learning about the computer, or outright rejection of the technology. Technoanxiety most commonly afflicts those who feel pressured--by employer, peers, or the general culture--to accept and use computers." [6]
While it is fortunately rare for a reference librarian to be truly computerphobic to the extent that he/she "locks up" or panics, milder symptoms of technostress are fairly common. These include:
  • feelings of isolation and frustration.
  • negative attitudes toward new computer-based sources and systems.
  • indifference to users' computer-related needs (as in "It's not my job to fix that printer").
  • self-deprecating thoughts or statements about one's ability to cope.
  • an apologetic attitude toward users.
  • a definition of self as "someone who doesn't search."
Technostress is only one form of stress. As such, it interacts with other forms to create synergistic effects. Anyone who has gone through a divorce while making a job change--or, for that matter, gotten married at Christmas--will recognize this phenomenon. Even in a technology-rich situation, not all stressors acting on reference librarians are purely technological in nature. In fact, what is commonly called "technostress" in this context has at least four related but distinct components: performance anxiety, information overload, role conflicts, and organizational factors.
Performance anxiety
Studies of the effects of performance anxiety on computer tasks indicate that anxious individuals tend to engage in "debilitative" thoughts and statements, such as negative self-evaluation, expectations of failure, and irrelevant or distracting thoughts. [7] In an online search situation, the findings of Turner, Kaske, and Baker support an "information-processing" model and underline the importance of an accurate "cognitive structure," formed and reinforced through previous search experience, in reducing anxiety. [8]
Stress occurs when a librarian is called upon to search new online or CD-ROM systems on which he/she has not been adequately trained, or older systems which are used only infrequently. The very richness of today's expanding electronic information universe becomes a problem when librarians, once confined to one or two vendors' systems, may now be called on to deal with 10, 15 or more. At the same time, the volume of mediated searches is decreasing as users turn to other alternatives, so the searcher who needs more and more practice is in fact getting less and less. The riotous non-uniformity of CD-ROM systems may be necessary and even salutary as vendors compete to improve and refine their proprietary user interfaces, but librarians generally have little chance to practice on these heavily-used systems.
Experienced searchers face a special problem when dealing with new systems that are clearly deficient in search capabilities or user-interface features. It is hard--and stressful--to suppress one's anger at clumsy design when teaching a user how to get around in a frustrating system, yet we know that we must do this and project a positive attitude for the user's sake.
Information overload
Closely related to performance anxiety is the tension created when the sheer volume of incoming information about new reference technologies and techniques exceeds what the librarian can reasonably absorb. Intellectual and professional curiosity can turn to frustration when data about new systems, or changes in existing systems, come in so rapidly that there is no chance to find meaningful patterns or develop a base of experience. As Richard Saul Wurman puts it, this "information anxiety" can take the form of "a chronic malaise, a pervasive fear that we are about to be overwhelmed by the very material we need to master in order to function in this world." [9]
This problem of information overload is particularly vexing since the essence of reference work is to be open to new information. The overloaded individual, however, has to close off inputs, or at the very least, set priorities for attention and time--meaning that some new information is rejected. Wurman observes that although "narrowing your field of information" is essential, "Many approach [such] decisions with apprehension because they involve eliminating possibilities." [10]
Moreover, reference librarians are expected not only to master and use an increasing number of computer systems, but also to mediate between these systems and a public that may include novice, intermediate, and near-expert searchers. Thus, the librarian has to learn not only what is required for him/her to be individually productive, but also what may be required to answer a wide and only partly predictable range of inquiries. This phenomenon is not new to the computer era--in fact, the joy of spontaneous learning in an unpredictable environment is part of what drew many of us to this kind of work in the first place. However, given the rapid proliferation of new formats, systems, search protocols, and types of data available, it is not surprising that the reference librarian sometimes feels like Sisyphus rather than Socrates.
Role conflicts
Underlying the obvious problems of performing and learning are the questions of identity and self-worth that arise when librarians feel the friction between different, and sometimes contradictory, functions and self-definitions.
Many librarians now working at reference desks entered the profession when the normal paradigm of service involved providing answers from printed reference sources. In the 1970s and 1980s, two new patterns appeared: instructing students in research strategies, and conducting mediated online searches. In both these situations, the librarian functioned as an expert: respected (usually), in control, dispensing information and insight.
Now, in the early 1990s, users are becoming more and more independent of the traditional sources, the library is beginning to act less like a materials storehouse and more like an information clearinghouse, and the role of the librarian continues to evolve--or, some might say, devolve. Thus, many reference librarians are not on their first professional paradigm, but perhaps their second or third. With each such shift come hope and excitement ... and also uncertainty and tension.
In a recent symposium on the "Reference Librarian of the Future," Alan Ritch points out that the expansion of computerized "global memory" has eroded the "myth of remarkable personal memory" which enshrined the librarian as an individual holder of and guide to esoteric knowledge. [11] Whatever its undoubted benefits, in daily practice the expansion of end-user searching tends to further erode the perception of expertise. It gives the librarian less control over events, and in many cases less prestige, than the reference-expert or mediated-search models. At those moments when the person who once functioned as an expert searcher is reduced to the role of CD-ROM attendant, fiddling with paper jams and spent ink cartridges, the question becomes one of dignity.
In such a situation, what Brian Nielsen has aptly called "deprofessionalization" has clearly become an issue: "Whereas a decade ago there was widespread optimism among librarians who embraced technological advances, today there is considerable dis-ease. The technology over which we were to be the masters has turned into an avalanche of technological change that threatens to leave many of us in the dust ... Were we misled to think that advancing automation would offer us a special place in the 'information society?'" [12]
The outlook for reference librarians' roles is not completely bleak, of course. Exciting new opportunities emerge as traditional library instruction programs expand into teaching end users the underlying concepts--as well as the superficial mechanics--of searching. However, as any librarian who has presented a well-crafted CD-ROM workshop to a nearly empty house can testify, many end users are satisfied with whatever search results they get and fail to see the wisdom of investing time in learning new techniques. They are, after all, as prone to information overload as we are.
This gap--between what librarians know is available and what users are aware of--suggests a new role for the librarian as "change agent," opening up new possibilities for the user. Such an evangelistic role, of course, is not without stresses of its own. As Diane Callahan comments, "Once personal resistance to the technology has been overcome, the librarian must still face the task of reducing resistance ... in others, or, at the other extreme, restraining excess enthusiasm or highly distorted expectations of what the new technology can actually provide." [13]
Finally, a few public service librarians can find new roles in helping to develop and implement the library's own online system, adding new databases and full-text sources to the online catalog (or more correctly, alongside it). For most reference librarians, however, the questions of "what I do" and "who I am" are harder and harder to answer in a satisfactory way.
Organizational factors
The reference librarian, of course, works not in a sealed bubble but in the context of an organization. One's partner of the moment on desk duty, other colleagues in the department, and the larger framework of the library's facilities, policies, culture, and management--all these influence the action of stressors and the individual's response to them.
By its choices in allocating finite resources, the library organization controls a key factor: the number of reference staff in relation to demand. The librarian depicted at the beginning of this article, juggling the needs of four users at the desk, may be an excellent searcher but is caught in a situation where basic services vie with high-tech alternatives for priority. If there are not enough staff to provide more than rudimentary services, then technostress is more likely to lead to frustration and avoidance than to engagement and mastery.
The organization's deployment of equipment also affects the reference librarian's ability to come to grips with technological change and provide effective computer-based services. When there are not enough public terminals, workstations, and printers to meet user needs, the stress level rises at the reference desk. As demand rises for full text databases and "ftp" access to immense volumes of text and graphic information, searchers will be hard-pressed to provide good service without upgraded workstations featuring high-capacity hard disks, high-speed processing power, and direct network connections.
A similar situation prevails in the back room. Microcomputers are opening up new horizons of productivity. However, the dream of the individual "professional workstation" is as elusive as the money needed to buy such equipment; many reference librarians must share equipment and do their writing and spreadsheeting in an open office environment.
Beyond simple numbers, the organization's culture and climate play an important part in supporting or undermining the adoption of new technologies. If staff perceive that their ideas are ignored and their efforts unnoticed; if no rewards or inducements are offered for professional development; if the organization's priorities are unclear or its rhetoric so broad as to be meaningless--all these can contribute to a sense of malaise and leave the individual that much less able to deal successfully with technology and its demands.
Technostress and Burnout
Given the conditions discussed above, it is not surprising that reference librarians, after a long day in the high-tech trenches, sometimes speak of themselves as feeling "burned out." However, the phenomenon formally known as burnout goes beyond occasional feelings to essentially take over one's professional and personal life.
Since the late 1970s, burnout has been a subject of concern in the literature of the helping professions, including librarianship. Burnout has been defined as "a syndrome of physical and emotional exhaustion, involving the development of negative self-concept, negative job attitudes, and loss of concern and feeling for clients." [14] Factors implicated as causes of burnout include long-term stress, lack of autonomy and control, conflict between idealistic expectations and reality, constant public contact, impossibly heavy workloads, and poor management. The effects can be devastating. In a recent work on this topic, Janette Caputo lists 73 symptoms, ranging from apathy to heart attacks, that have been reported in burnout studies. [15]
Though the research is not conclusive, studies have detected varying levels of burnout among librarians. [16] It is not hard to see how the kinds of computer-related stress described above could contribute to burnout in reference librarians, and in fact put them at special risk. However, technostress is not the same thing as burnout, nor must it inevitably lead to burnout. As suggested below, both the individual and the organization can take positive steps to deal with these problems.
In a sense, all reactions to stress--from initiating a self-instruction program to hiding under one's desk--are forms of coping. Some, however, are more constructive, more appropriate to the reference workplace, and more likely to succeed than others. Coping with stress is a highly individual matter; different people react to a situation in different ways. Here are some guidelines for individuals facing technostress:
It is easy to get so involved in reference problems, or so drawn into the cerebral, precise, high-speed world of the computer, that you forget the intimate connection between body and mind. Some of the most effective techniques for immediate relaxation work through the body: for example, breathing deeply and regularly, or alternately tensing and relaxing muscles. Other techniques free the mind from mechanical routine: for example, visualizing yourself in an idyllic, peaceful setting. Disciplines such as yoga and t'ai chi combine both aspects, and can be very rewarding; but even the simplest relaxation methods are vastly better than no relaxation at all. [17]
Stay Healthy
Sound general health may be an individual's greatest ally in coping with technostress, as it is with other forms of stress. Taking care of one's self naturally includes getting proper nutrition, exercise, and rest. [18] The more intense the work environment, the more important it is to place this in perspective and make sure one's off-the-job activities and interests are sufficient to provide both physical and mental variety. Whatever your preference--climbing rocks, listening to Mozart, petting the cat, or just sitting barefoot on the back porch with a glass of iced tea--the injunction to "get a life" has special meaning for those overburdened with high tech.
Cultivate a Positive Attitude
While reading articles about technostress is not recommended as a prime relaxation technique, it certainly helps to realize that you are not alone. Recognizing that stress is natural, that ambivalent feelings toward technology are acceptable, and that many others in the profession have the same problems, opens the way to a more relaxed and positive attitude.
Cognitive psychologists have demonstrated the importance of "self-talk"--the internal monologue of self-evaluating statements that forms a large part of most people's mental activity. Seemingly simple techniques, such as replacing negative thoughts with positive affirmations, can be very effective in overcoming self-doubt and perfectionism. [19] If you find yourself thinking "I'll never get the hang of these CD-ROMs," try replacing this with "I can help most people who come to the desk with CD-ROM questions." When faced with a new challenge, think back and visualize your past successes in similar circumstances.
Finally, cultivate a sense of humor--specifically, the ability to laugh at your own situation (as opposed to waxing sarcastic about computers or library users). This may be the most important technique of all; it is certainly the best barometer of psychological health.
Manage Your Time
As the notion of negative self-talk implies, technostress can become a self-fulfilling prophecy; the perception that one is a victim can get in the way of constructive choices and actions. Conversely, positive steps that move a person away from victim status are likely to improve a stressful situation.
An excellent first step is to devote some time each week to learning and exploration. Since there is never enough time, and since urgent everyday demands will always be competing for attention with long-range learning goals, this will probably require a conscious setting of priorities and some skillful time management. To reduce external interruptions and demands, set aside some personal space and time for learning, with the understanding that calls are to be returned later, visitors asked to come back at another time, and E-mail not monitored.
Set Realistic Goals
No one can be an expert at everything. To guide the learning process, pick an area where you can make a contribution and concentrate your efforts there. Approach this personal territory with a spirit of exploration but also with tangible goals in mind, such as preparing for a demonstration to other staff. When you reach a goal, celebrate!
Clearly, the individual initiatives described above are most likely to succeed in an organization that encourages and rewards these efforts, placing an explicit value on professional development and adaptation to change. Here are some concrete steps that department heads, online coordinators, and administrators can take to support front-line staff: [20]
Believe in Each Individual
Some people on any reference staff have special aptitudes for searching, some for teaching, some for pioneering, and some for applying established methods. Each has his/her individual starting point for development. One may be ready to explore the Internet, while her colleague may need to take a typing class to become an effective searcher. All are worthy, and each can make a contribution if given the proper support. Especially where a staff member's self-esteem is on the line, an attentive and positive attitude on the part of a department head or coordinator can make a significant difference. This is one area in which "management by wandering around" pays real dividends.
One way to make people more comfortable with new technologies is to provide a low-anxiety setting for learning. For example, at The University of Texas at Austin General Libraries, a "Prototype Information Workstation" [21] was set up for testing and demonstration purposes, and staff were invited to sign up for individual practice sessions. When few responded, the online coordinator began offering individual guided orientation sessions using this machine. The usual agenda consists of a quick review of the workstation's capabilities, followed by whatever the learner wants to explore; other universities' online catalogs and various Internet resources are common topics of interest. The sign-up rate is still low, but so far at least one person per department has taken advantage of this opportunity.
Foster Cooperation
While some people work and learn best on their own, many can benefit from the mutual support of a team setting. One useful technique for helping new searchers overcome their initial anxiety is the "buddy" or "mentor" system in which the novice is guided by a more experienced colleague--first watching some actual searches, then "soloing" under the mentor's supervision.
Most reference department heads and library managers have learned the value of involving staff in planning for new technologies and services: to foster a sense of control and ownership, and (pragmatically) because they know a lot. Designated groups and task forces can be especially valuable when the initiative comes directly from the staff. At UT Austin, for example, the library administration recently began inviting staff to submit proposed charters for "Innovation Teams ... to explore library-related problems and issues in a creative manner and to seek solutions that will benefit the organization." [22]
Organize and Filter the Information Barrage
Department heads and online coordinators are responsible for seeing that staff get current information about new technologies and systems. However, as anyone with a full in-basket knows, merely routing printed information does not guarantee that people will pay attention to it, let alone act on it. There may not be time to sit down and write digests or reviews for the staff, but some selectivity in routing materials, and some indication of what is most important, can help. Other typical means of communication include searchers' meetings and forums featuring guest speakers, demonstrations, or discussions of service issues.
Provide Opportunities for Hands-on Practice
Developing and retaining computer skills requires application of the proverb "I hear and forget; I see and remember; I do and understand." Not surprisingly, researchers have found that experienced searchers perform better than novices, and that "even a brief acclimatization can result in significantly enhanced results." [23] While many libraries take advantage of online training provided by vendors and database producers, effective learning requires ongoing, hands-on practice.
Typical practice opportunities include use of DIALOG's ONTAP files, EPIC practice files, and equivalents on other systems; offline practice on CD-ROMs that operate like their online counterparts (e.g., DIALOG OnDisc); and where equipment permits, the chance to "work out" on new CD-ROM systems before they go public. A good case can also be made for offering each qualified searcher a certain amount of subsidized searching on actual online databases, for purposes of practice, demonstrations, and individual research. Experience with a $50/searcher/year subsidy at UT Austin suggests that not all searchers will take advantage of it (a help at budget time!), and that those who do appreciate this useful "perk."
Distribute the Expertise
In today's complex environment, it is unrealistic to expect each librarian to completely master every information system. All reference staff need to have a basic level of competence on major end-user systems, and possibly on some mediated systems as well. [24] Beyond that level, it makes sense to divide up the territory, putting specific people in charge of certain technologies, vendor systems, or databases.
This distribution of responsibility benefits the individuals involved, by letting them concentrate their energies and attain mastery in specific areas. It benefits the online coordinator, who can draw on the assigned "experts" for advanced assistance. It also benefits staff and users in general, since reference staff and administrators alike will know where to go with questions or referrals.
The classic example of this strategy, as applied to new technologies, is the Library Technology Watch program at the University of California at Berkeley. In this program, six staff members serve as volunteer "topic experts" specializing in "Optical Disk Technology (including CD-ROM), Hypermedia and Multimedia, Information Transfer (including downloading from databases and catalogs into personal bibliographic databases), Networks and Networking (BITNET, the Internet, etc.), Expert systems and Artificial Intelligence, [and] Emerging and Miscellaneous Technologies."
Participants devote five hours per week to this program, with their other responsibilities shifted accordingly. They are expected to "read current literature in the field, summarizing and routing to other Library staff as appropriate; contribute to a monthly attachment to CU News of annotated citations of current literature; draft position papers as required for Library policy advisory committees and/or Library administration; give presentations to Library groups or staff at large; consult with peers at other institutions; serve on appropriate task forces or committees; [and] cultivate contacts with faculty engaged in information technology research and with appropriate Information Systems and Technology staff." These duties emphasize serving as an information resource in the chosen area, rather than troubleshooting, training, or being the sole provider of direct services. The first year's experience with this program reportedly has been very positive. [25]
Simplify the Technicalities
Librarians who are reluctant to do online searches often complain that the process is cumbersome, with too many technical details to remember. While lobbying vendors to streamline their systems and adopt the NISO Common Command Language may have salutary long-term effects, there remains much that online coordinators can do in the short term to improve the local interface for searchers. Paul Heckel's advice to software designers is applicable here: "The effective communicator looks for simplicity as it will be perceived by his audience, and he will do complex things to achieve that simplicity." [26]
Are your searchers learning logon sequences that could be built into "auto-logon" scripts, one for each vendor? Most communications programs have this capability. Once this is accomplished, consider providing a menu-based environment that presents a list of online systems and lets staff initiate a search by selecting the one they want. On an MS-DOS machine, this can be done with batch files or specialized programs such as Automenu; on a Macintosh, with careful arrangement and naming of windows and icons.
Once searchers are logged on, one-page "cheat sheets" are a speedy, convenient, and anxiety-reducing alternative to lengthy printed manuals. Several vendors now provide this kind of documentation under such names as bluesheets, aidpages or reference cards. Similar sheets are worthwhile for the communications software itself, or for particular search activities such as duplicate removal, output formatting, or downloading from CD-ROMs. The goal is to change these situations from "emergencies" to routine matters.
Lower the Anxiety Threshold
Another common complaint from searchers is the "ticking meter" phenomenon. Particularly in a mediated search when the customer is present, the buildup of online costs creates psychological pressure that can distract the searcher and result in mistakes.
To reduce this pressure, searchers at UT Austin have a financial "safety net." If a searcher makes an error or encounters a system problem that significantly increases the search cost, he/she has the option of having the library pay for that portion of the search, charging the customer only for the successful portion. Having this option available manifestly reduces anxiety; when it is exercised, explaining the situation to the customer provides some immediate positive public relations. Reports of such "charge-offs" give the online coordinator an indication of possible training needs. Since it is seldom invoked more than once or twice a month, this policy has proved to be affordable.
Online systems can also be designed to reduce anxiety. DIALOG's recently announced "set notice" command, which causes a warning message and cost estimate to appear whenever the searcher gives a command that would generate output costing more than a preset amount, should have a salutary effect. [27]
Set Priorities
Operating library services with a static or decreasing staff and budget is a challenge that requires explicit setting of priorities at the individual, departmental, and library levels. This process must include specification of low as well as high priorities. In the environment of the 1990s, inability to make these choices (even when masked by a "we do it all" attitude) is a sure way to intensify stress among staff.
One way to delineate priorities is to specify the levels of service to be given to various user groups. Many libraries have policies in place regarding eligibility for online search services. An example of a more comprehensive approach is the "Library Service Priority Program" recently announced by UC Berkeley.
As new service patterns emerge, libraries need to consider how their markets for computer-based information are segmented and which services should be supported by various kinds of staff activity. This process involves both philosophical and pragmatic questions. What is the library's responsibility to ensure the quality of search results--and, given differing user needs, what is "quality" in the first place? Should users of "full-service" (mediated) search services, online end-user services, or public CD-ROM terminals have priority for staff time? Given clear and realistic instructional objectives for each type of user, what is the most cost-effective means of delivering instruction in each case? Is the demand for equipment troubleshooting great enough to justify dedicated staff? The answers to these questions will vary from one institution to another. The important thing is that they be asked and that locally "correct" solutions be implemented.
New technologies also call for libraries to set priorities, lest our reach (what is technically possible) exceed our grasp (what staff are actually equipped and trained to deliver on a daily basis). At UT Austin, for example, a current priority is to get searchers set up with the software, information, and skills required to telnet to other online catalogs and information systems on the Internet. A similar program to foster use of Internet file transfers (via ftp, WAIS, etc.) is being deferred until this first step is accomplished. Generally, we will promote a new technology to users only after staff are sufficiently familiar with it. This may not always place us on the cutting edge of progress, but it does allow staff to master proven techniques at a reasonable pace, thus helping to ensure that we can deliver what we promise.
There is no "magic bullet" that will banish technostress from libraries. Most of us will be dealing with continual change for the rest of our working lives. Positive attitudes and sensible coping and management strategies will ease this process and benefit both librarians and users, enabling us to concentrate on the excitement of being at the heart of a true revolution.
This bibliography is not being regularly updated. For more recent references, see "Technostress in the Bionic Library" (1998).
[1] Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Ode Inscribed to W.H. Channing" quoted in John Bartlett, Familiar Quotations, ed. Emily Morrison Beck, 15th edition. (Boston: Little, Brown, 1980).
[2] Craig Brod, Technostress: The Human Cost of the Computer Revolution. (Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 1984), 16.
[3] Several extensive reviews and discussions of technostress studies are contained in: Amarjit S. Sethi, Denis H.J. Caro, and Randall S. Schuler, eds., Strategic Management of Technostress in an Information Society (Lewiston, NY and Toronto: C.J. Hogrefe, Inc., 1987).
[4] Julie Bichteler, "Technostress in Libraries: Causes, Effects, and Solutions," The Electronic Library 5 (October 1987): 282-87, and "Human Aspects of High Tech in Special Libraries," Special Libraries 77 (Summer 1986): 121-28; Sandra Champion, "Technostress: Technology's Toll," School Library Journal 35 (November 1988): 48-51; Linda S. Dobb, "Technostress: Surviving a Database Crash," Reference Services Review 18 (1990): 65-68,48; MaryEllen Sievert et al., "Investigating Computer Anxiety in an Academic Library," Information Technology and Libraries 7 (September 1988): 243-52.
[5] Sara F. Fine, "Technological Innovation, Diffusion, and Resistance: An Historical Perspective," Journal of Library Administration 7 (Spring 1986), 83-108, and "Human Factors and Human Consequences: Opening Commentary" in Allen Kent and Thomas J. Galvin, eds., Information Technology: Critical Choices for Library Decision-Makers (New York: Marcel Dekker, 1982), 209-24; S.Michael Malinconico, "Hearing the Resistance," Library Journal 108 (January 15, 1983): 111-13, and "Listening to the Resistance," Library Journal 108 (February 15, 1983): 353-55; Wilson Luguire, "Attitudes Toward Automation/Innovation in Academic Libraries," Journal of Academic Librarianship 8 (January 1983): 344-51; Walter Giesbrecht and Roberta McCarthy, "Staff Resistance to Library CD-ROM Services," CD-ROM Professional 4 (May 1991): 34-38.
[6] Brod, p. 16.
[7] Carol R. Glass and Luanne A. Knight, "Cognitive Factors in Computer Anxiety," Cognitive Therapy and Research 12 (1988): 351-66.
[8] Philip M. Turner, Neal K. Kaske, and Gayle S. Baker, "The Effects of Baud Rate, Performance Anxiety, and Experience on Online Bibliographic Searches," Information Technology and Libraries 9 (March 1990): 34-42.
[9] Richard Saul Wurman, Information Anxiety (New York: Doubleday, 1989), 34.
[10] Wurman, p. 317.
[11] Alan Ritch, "Back to the Future: Desk Set or Desklessness?", Reference Services Review 19 (Spring 1991): 74-76.
[12] Brian Nielsen, "CompuServe Information Manager: A Mediator on a Floppy," Online 15 (July 1991): 92-94. Nielsen's earlier commentaries on librarian roles stand up well after ten years: "Online Bibliographic Searching and the Deprofessionalization of Librarianship," Online Review 4 (1980): 215-24, and "Teacher or Intermediary: Alternative Professional Models in the Information Age," College & Research Libraries 43 (May 1982): 183-91.
[13] Diane R. Callahan, "The Librarian as Change Agent in the Diffusion of Technological Innovation," The Electronic Library 9 (February 1991): 13-15.
[14] Ayala Pines and Christina Maslach, "Characteristics of Staff Burnout in Mental Health Settings," Hospital and Community Psychiatry 29 (April 1978): 233, quoted in David S. Ferriero and Kathleen A. Powers, "Burnout at the Reference Desk," RQ 21 (Spring 1982): 274-279.
[15] Janette S. Caputo, Stress and Burnout in Library Service (Phoenix: Oryx Press, 1991), 30. For another perspective, see the drawings made by apparent burnout victims and reproduced in Mary Haack, John W. Jones, and Tina Roose, "Occupational Burnout Among Librarians," Drexel Library Quarterly 20 (Spring 1984), 46-72.
[16] For a critical review, see David P. Fisher, "Are Librarians Burning Out?", Journal of Librarianship 22 (October 1990), 216-235.
[17] The literature on stress management is vast, but a good starting point is Caputo's discussion, pp. 107-131.
[18] This satisfies a long-standing desire on the author's part to tell the entire library profession to take its vitamins. Those looking for a more substantive treatment are referred to the section on "Strategic Individual Choices for Technostress Management" in Sethi et al., Strategic Management of Technostress in an Information Society, pp. 229-356. This contains chapters on nutrition, fitness, yoga, "contemplative strategies" (i.e., meditation), biofeedback, and sleep.
[19] For a popular treatment of cognitive techniques, see David D. Burns, M.D., Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy (New York: William Morrow, 1980).
[20] Many of the examples that follow are from The University of Texas at Austin, not necessarily from any claim to uniqueness or distinction, but mainly because they are well known to the author.
[21] The Prototype Information Workstation is a Macintosh IIsi with 5MB RAM and an 80MB hard disk, a CD-ROM player, a 2400-baud modem, and direct connections to the library's AppleTalk LAN, the university's administrative computer network, and the Internet. Word-processing, graphics, file conversion, and bibliographic database software are provided for processing of retrieved information.
[22] Harold Billings, "Library Committees and Innovation Teams," The Library Bulletin [Austin, TX: The General Libraries, The University of Texas at Austin] 20 (July 5, 1991): 1.
[23] Turner, Kaske, and Baker, p. 41.
[24] For a thorough discussion of this and related issues, see Cecilia D. Stafford and William M. Serban, "Core Competencies: Recruiting, Training, and Evaluating in the Automated Reference Environment," in "Personnel Administration in an Automated Environment," ed. Philip E. Leinbach, Journal of Library Administration 13 (1990): 81-97.
[25] Roy Tennant, "RE: technostress," BITNET message posted on PACS-L listserver, February 4, 1991.
[26] Paul Heckel, The Elements of Friendly Software Design (New York: Warner Books, 1984), 17.
[27] "Announcing a New, User-Requested SET Command," DIALOG Chronolog 19 (July 1991): 274-277.