Becoming an Andragogical Librarian: Using Library Instruction as a Tool to Combat Library Anxiety and Empower Adult Learners

Document Type



Andragogy refers to theory specific to teaching adults, as opposed to pedagogy, which refers to the teaching methodologies used to instruct children. Popularized by adult educator Malcolm Knowles, andragogy relies on 5 basic tenants: adult learners are self-directed, they possess life experience that informs their learning, they possess a desire to actively participate in the learning process, their learning needs to be relevant to their lives, and they are highly motivated to learn. A review of the literature in library science (specifically library instruction) and adult education aims to arm librarians with a working knowledge of andragogy. This is an especially important undertaking as adult learners are becoming a much larger student demographic at colleges and universities around the world, and the specific needs, characteristics, and anxieties of adult learners are often overlooked. Instruction librarians’ most valuable tool for working with adult learners is bibliographic instruction. Effectively designed sessions can alleviate the library anxiety of adult learners and empower them to become better students.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

APA Citation

Cooke, N. A. (2010). Becoming an andragogical librarian: Using library instruction as a tool to combat library anxiety and empower adult learners. New Review of Academic Librarianship, 16(2), 208-227.