Affective models

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One of the definitions for the word affective is "Of or pertaining to the affections or emotions; emotional..." (Oxford English Dictionary, 1989).


Reference Research


In terms of analyzing reference research and practice, Richardson (2002) concludes that the mental models most often used are Behavioral Models, with Cognitive Models trailing far behind, and those that are concerned mostly with affect are the least likely utilized.


The moods and feelings of both library users and reference librarians cannot necessarily be separated from their attitudes, behavior, actions and thoughts. The "tripartite scheme" (Richardson, 2002, p. 181) of mental models is not so much about separate entities as parts of human interaction that all work together. It was during the 1950's that researchers first began to construct these models. Richardson (2002) says that "In this decade, writers focus on what is the real question being asked by users. The role of question negotiation in getting to the 'real question' is studied for the first time. For the first time, a theoretical perspective, that of psychology, is put forward by a researcher to help understand the process. And, what kind of knowledge is required to answer questions is also examined for the first time" (p. 186).


Interviewing and Counseling


Jack Delaney wrote an article that appeared in Wilson Library Bulletin in December 1954, which exhorted librarians to adopt better skills in interviewing users. "A good library interview is a serious conversation between patron and librarian directed to the purpose of helping the patron solve his information or recreation problem" (Delaney, 1954, p. 317). For him, the librarian is supposed to intuitively attempt understand the user's motives and there is something more significant than just simple enquiring and answering that is taking place. As Delaney (1954) says, "The interview is most effective, not in getting to the facts but in giving away the attitudes of the speaker" (p. 318). Librarians are meant to read users' emotional cues and understand them better than they do themselves.


David Maxfield (1954) was interested in reference librarianship and the counseling process. He wrote about a program at the University of Illinois, Chicago where librarians were being trained to work with undergraduates as Counselor Librarians. He says that "conventional reference work does not always place quite so much emphasis on the library patron as an individual person as it does upon library materials and bibliographic techniques" (Maxfield, 1954, p. 162). The sense that the librarians were there to provide guidance and personal attention was meant to improve the students' lives personally and academically.


Patrick Robert Penland (1970) was interested in improving librarianship through encouraging professinals to listen attentively not just to the users' words, but to try to understand their needs by experiencing empathy for them. Like Maxfield and Delaney, he saw the librarian's role as more than just helping enquirers in the area of information-seeking, but also helping them personally.


Seeking and Finding Comprehensive Models


Carol Kuhlthau (1983, 1988) devised a model that was meant to examine and illustrate users' information-seeking behaviors and it combined emotional, cognitive, and behavioral aspects. Based on research that was done with high school students, the model showed different stages in the search process: Task Initiation, Topic Selection, Prefocus Exploration, Focus Formulation, Information Collection, and Search Closure. Again, much of the emphasis is on seeing things from the user's point of view and as a whole person (Kuhlthau, Turock, George, Belvin, 1989). Kuhlthau (1993) refined the model further and investigated the way all three mental processes interacted within each of the stages. She concluded that people who felt engaged in all three aspects of their mental processes had more positive feelings about searching for information and learning in general.


Rachel Applegate (1993) conceives of simple and multiple path models that attempt to address the complexity of users' expectations and emotional satisfaction in seeking information. She is interested in the way many users do not have high expectations in regards to reference services and may feel that libraries are off-limits when it comes to users' demands and complaints. Her Emotional Satisfaction Model-Multiple Path (ESM-MP) takes into account the conflicting aspects of a user's awareness and experience. Applegate contends that better reference services may emerge if professionals are able to acknowledge the emotional complexity of users in a library environment.








Applegate, R. (1993). Models of User Satisfaction: Understanding False Positives. Reference Quarterly, 32, 525-539.


Delaney, J. Interviewing. (1954). Wilson Library Bulletin, 29, 317-318.


Kuhlthau, C. C. (1993). Seeking Meaning: A Process Approach to Library and Informaion Services. Westport, Ct.: Ablex Publishing.


Kuhlthau, C. C., Turock, B. J., George, M. W., Belvin, R. J. (1989). Validating a Model of the Search Process: A Comparison of Academic, Public, and School Library Users. Library and Information Science Research, 12, 5-32.


Maxfield, D. K. (1954). Counselor Librarianship at U.I.C.. College and Research Libraries, 15, 161-166.


Oxford English Dictionary, Second Edition, Vol. 1. (1989). Prepared by J.A. Simpson and E.S.C. Weiner, Oxford: Clarendon Press.


Penland, P. R. (1970). Interviewing for Counselor and Reference Librarians. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh.


Richardson, J. V. Jr. (2002). The Current State of Research on Reference Transactions. In F. C. Lynden (Ed.), Advances in Librarianship, (Vol. 26, pp. 175-230). San Diego: Academic Press.



Rachel E. Longaker