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.
Library Technostress Survey results
"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.
(reproduced with permission)
"Things are in the saddle, and ride mankind."
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson 
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 "MODERN DISEASE"
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." 
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. 
The effects of technostress on librarians have been studied
by Bichteler, Champion, Dobb, and Sievert et al.  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. 
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
"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." 
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.
- 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
- 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
- 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.
TECHNOSTRESS AND ITS COMPONENTS
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.
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.  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. 
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
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.
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." 
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
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.
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.
 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?'" 
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
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." 
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
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
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
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."  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.
Though the research is not conclusive, studies have detected
varying levels of burnout among librarians.  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.
COPING WITH TECHNOSTRESS:
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
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. 
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.  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
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. 
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
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,
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: 
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"
 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
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
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." 
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.
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."  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.  Beyond that level, it makes
sense to divide up the territory, putting specific people in
charge of certain technologies, vendor systems, or
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
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
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." 
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
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. 
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
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 my Technostress Page
and "Technostress in the Bionic Library" (1998).
 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).
 Craig Brod, Technostress: The Human Cost of the
Computer Revolution. (Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 1984),
 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).
 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
 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):
 Brod, p. 16.
 Carol R. Glass and Luanne A. Knight, "Cognitive Factors
in Computer Anxiety," Cognitive Therapy and Research 12
 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.
 Richard Saul Wurman, Information Anxiety (New York:
Doubleday, 1989), 34.
 Wurman, p. 317.
 Alan Ritch, "Back to the Future: Desk Set or
Desklessness?", Reference Services Review 19 (Spring
 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.
 Diane R. Callahan, "The Librarian as Change Agent in
the Diffusion of Technological Innovation," The Electronic
Library 9 (February 1991): 13-15.
 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.
 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.
 For a critical review, see David P. Fisher, "Are
Librarians Burning Out?", Journal of Librarianship 22
(October 1990), 216-235.
 The literature on stress management is vast, but a good
starting point is Caputo's discussion, pp. 107-131.
 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.
 For a popular treatment of cognitive techniques, see
David D. Burns, M.D., Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy
(New York: William Morrow, 1980).
 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.
 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.
 Harold Billings, "Library Committees and Innovation
Teams," The Library Bulletin [Austin, TX: The General
Libraries, The University of Texas at Austin] 20 (July 5,
 Turner, Kaske, and Baker, p. 41.
 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):
 Roy Tennant, "RE: technostress," BITNET message posted
on PACS-L listserver, February 4, 1991.
 Paul Heckel, The Elements of Friendly Software Design
(New York: Warner Books, 1984), 17.
 "Announcing a New, User-Requested SET Command," DIALOG
Chronolog 19 (July 1991): 274-277.
- feelings of isolation and frustration.
- negative attitudes toward new computer-based sources and
- 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."
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