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Patrons avoid asking librarians for help for a variety of psychosocial reasons. These include academic goal orientation, degree of self-regulation, perceived threats to autonomy or self-esteem, desire to avoid being stereotyped, perceptions of librarians, and feelings of confusion, fear, or anxiety. Educational psychologists and college student services professionals have published research on help seeking that is directly relevant to library patrons’ behaviors. This review summarizes literature on the educational psychology of help seeking, help seeking in college student services, interpersonal dimensions of library reference services, library anxiety, the effect of librarian behaviors on patrons’ perceptions of help received, and preliminary findings on help seeking in online settings.



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