Library anxiety of law students| A study utilizing the multidimensional library anxiety scale

Author/s: Stacey L Bowers, PhD
Availability: Open Access
Type: Dissertation
Year: 2021

Abstract: The purpose of this study was to determine whether law students experienced library anxiety and, if so, which components contributed to that anxiety. The Multidimensional Library Anxiety Scale (MLAS) developed by Dr. Doris Van Kampen was used to assess library anxiety levels of law students. The MLAS is a 53 question Likert scale instrument that measures the construct of library anxiety. Participants in the study were law students enrolled in a private midwestern university during the 2009-2010 academic year who completed the survey instrument. Law students are a unique graduate school population who undergo an extremely rigorous and competitive course of study, which often involves detailed legal research. As a result, they frequently utilize the library, whether on-site or online. If law students suffer from high levels of library anxiety, it could impact their ability to complete assignments and achieve high academic excellence. Through better understanding of law students’ library anxiety levels, law school educators and librarians may be in a position to begin reducing or alleviating those anxieties. Due to the fact that this was the first time the MLAS was used with law students and only its second use, a confirmatory factor analysis was performed. The confirmatory factor analysis resulted in an inadequate fit. As a result, a principal components analysis was undertaken, which resulted in six components that were somewhat similar, but not identical, to the prior research study using the MLAS instrument. The six identified components were named as follows: (i) general library and research anxiety (LibResearch); (ii) comfort with technology and online access (TechOnline); (iii) perceived value of the understanding how to use the library (ValueLib); (iv) comfort with the library as a physical place (ComfortLib); (v) perceived value of using the library inperson (LibInperson); and, (vi) comfort with the library staff (LibStaff). The findings of this study indicated that law students exhibit moderate levels of overall library anxiety and varying levels of library anxiety on the six components. In particular, evening division law students had higher levels of library anxiety as it pertained to comfort with the library staff. Also, law students who used the library in person one or fewer times per semester encountered greater library anxiety as it pertained to general library and research anxiety. Additionally, law students who used the library online one or fewer times per semester had higher library anxiety related to comfort with technology and online access. Results indicated that overall library anxiety and on the six components did not differ based upon gender or year in law school. Lastly, library anxiety on the six components did not differ based upon law students’ age or grade point average ranges.

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