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Academic reference librarians are in the business of helping students and faculty find information. To succeed in our work, those who could use our help must avail themselves of the opportunity. Unfortunately, librarians are keenly aware that although we are willing and able to assist people, many will not ask for our help. This column in our series on insights from educational psychology for academic librarians will explore the various reasons why patrons may be reluctant to ask for help, and in our Takeaways for Librarians section conclude with suggestions for actions to help overcome that reluctance.


Originally published as Black, S., & Allen, J. D. (2018). Insights from educational psychology part 8: Academic help seeking. The Reference Librarian, 60(1), 62–76.

Revised version published as Chapter 8 in Educational Psychology for Academic Librarians at



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