University of California
Peer Reviewed Title: Technostress in the Bionic Library Author: Kupersmith, John Publication Date: 01-01-1998 Publication Info: Postprints, UC Berkeley Permalink: http://escholarship.org/uc/item/1hc8s95x Citation: Kupersmith, John. (1998). Technostress in the Bionic Library. UC Berkeley: Retrieved from: http:// escholarship.org/uc/item/1hc8s95x Additional Info: John Kupersmith, "Technostress in the Bionic Library" . Originally published in Cheryl LaGuardia, ed., Recreating the Academic Library: Breaking Virtual Ground, (New York: Neal-Schuman, 1998), pp. 23-47. Original Citation: John Kupersmith, "Technostress in the Bionic Library." Originally published in Cheryl LaGuardia, ed., Recreating the Academic Library: Breaking Virtual Ground, (New York: Neal-Schuman, 1998), pp. 23-47. Keywords: technostress, computer-related stress, technology, information systems, libraries Abstract: Computer-related stress, sometimes called “technostress,” affects staff and users as libraries offer more and more information through web sites and other remotely accessible electronic systems. This paper looks at technostress in the context of general stress theory, the Zeigarnik Effect, and the concept of "sensemaking." It suggests ways in which library web developers, system designers and managers can reduce stress-related problems. 2008 updates: In the ten years since it was published, this paper has held up fairly well overall. I've added some notes in the text to acknowledge conditions that have changed. I am grateful to the late Dr. Ilene Rockman, Manager of the California State University Libraries' Information Competence Initiative and editor of Reference Services Review, for reviewing an earlier version of these updates.
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The Bionic Library
As readers of this volume are well aware, academic libraries are offering increasingly copious and diverse information in electronic form for local and remote access. These electronic services began with online library catalogs, have come to include bibliographic, full-text, and image databases, and, through the use of Internet tools such as the World Wide Web, are rapidly evolving into networked "information spaces" where users can identify and locate both printed and electronic items, retrieve the latter, and communicate via e-mail with expert guides (e.g., the library staff). At the same time, the physical library continues to exist and even thrive, acquiring, organizing, and serving up large quantities of material in print and other non-electronic formats to substantial numbers of students and faculty. 2008: "Thrive" may not be the first word that springs to mind when you read this ARL document, which shows significant declines in reference and circulation transactions between 1995 and 2006 (http://www.arl.org/bm~doc/arl-br-256-stats.pdf). But the results are mixed, with attendance at group presentations increasing. In any case, stress on staff caused by declining library usage only reinforces that caused by technology. Thus it seems likely that academic libraries will continue to operate in both modes for some time. In coining the term "bionic library" to describe this hybrid concept, Harold Billings also alluded to the variety of reactions among potential users: To some scholars, the concept of an electronic library is paradise at hand; to others, it is absolutely frightening. I suggest that libraries are evolving as bionic libraries; organic, evolutionary, and electronically enhanced. Library collections will continue, perdurable with books and journals, but for some information sources available via remote workstations, the library will soon never sleep ... The old and new library systems will become assimilated and intertwined.  The library is also "bionic" in the sense that it comprises not...
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