User:Tony Cherian/Temp/Stress and library.doc

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Work-related stress among Academic Librarians in Kerala


The study deals with the work-related stress among academic librarians. The library environment has changed drastically over the last few decades. With the development & application of information technologies, the library environment has shifted from traditional to computerized rather digitized. The economic conditions and work load is getting worse. There are bigger and specific demands from the user-side. The library and information science professionals experience stress as they re-adjust their lines with the changing library environment.

The term stress was first employed in a biological context by the endocrinologist Hans Selye in the 1930s. He later broadened and popularized the concept to include inappropriate physiological response to any demand. In his usage stress refers to a condition and stressor to the stimulus causing it. It covers a wide range of phenomena, from mild irritation to drastic dysfunction that may cause severe health breakdown.

Stress is defined as any adjustive demand to one’s physiological and psychological reaction to challenge imposed on him/her that requires coping behaviour. Generally, stress is the change which our body/mind experience as one adjusts to the continually changing environment. It has both physical and psychological or emotional effects on us and can help compel us to action result in a new awareness and an exciting new perspective. As a negative influence it can result in feeling of distrust, rejection, anger and depression which in turn can lead to frustration to work and also several health problems.

Signs of stress may be cognitive, emotional, physical or behavioral. Signs include poor judgment, a general negative outlook excessive worrying, moodiness, irritability, agitation, inability to relax, feeling lonely, isolated or depressed, aches and pains, diarrhea or constipation, nausea, dizziness, chest pain, rapid heartbeat, eating too much or not enough, sleeping too much or not enough, social withdrawal, procrastination or neglect of responsibilities, increased alcohol, nicotine or drug consumption, and nervous habits such as pacing about, nail-biting and neck pains.


The investigator adopted survey method. Questionnaire was used as the data gathering tool to collect data.40 academic libraries were selected in random from 13 districts of Kerala state, India. The investigator tabulated all the responses received and simple statistical methods were used to reach the findings.

Levels of Stress

Different levels of stress are there according to the nature and effect of stress.


It is a kind of stress that helps in some situations. It experience right before you have the need to exert physical force. Eustress prepares the muscles, heart, and mind for the strength needed for whatever it about to occur. Eustress can also apply to creative endeavors. When a person needs to have some extra energy or creativity, eustress kicks in to bring them the inspiration they need.


Occurs when the mind and body undergoes when the normal routine is constantly adjusted and altered. The mind is not comfortable with the routine, and craves the familiarity of common routine.

Acute stress

Acute stress is the type of stress that comes immediately with a change of routine. It is an intense level of feeling, but it passes quickly.

Chronic Stress

Chronic stress will occur if there is a constant change of routine for week after week. Chronic stress affects the body for a long period of time. This is the level of stress experienced by someone who constantly moves or changes job.


Burnout refers to a state of overwhelm, emotional listlessness and depression due to prolonged levels of high stress, usually related to excessive workplace or lifestyle demands and a general imbalance in lifestyle. People at highest risk of burnout are those who feel a lack of control over their environment, have unclear expectations placed on them, receive little recognition and lack social support while having high performance expectations placed on them.

The study reveals that most of the academic librarians (48%) are with positive, creative eustress while they work. But 5% of them are experiencing chronic stress and 13 % of them are in a burnout level.

Stressor or Sources of stress

Anything that creates stress can be called as a stressor or source of stress. It can be a person, situation, ailment, feeling or anything. Some of the stressors at workplace are the following.

  • Over work load/work under load
  • Unreasonable demands for performance
  • Role conflict and ambiguity
  • Responsibilities unmatched to support systems
  • Interpersonal relations with the employees, users and employer
  • The fear of losing one’s job
  • Under paid job
  • Under utilization of skills
  • Technological changes or disorders

The study shows work load is the major (63%) stressor in academic libraries. 40% of them having role conflict in their institution. Technology changes or disorders (28%) and interpersonal relations(20%) are the other notable sources of stress.

Stress relieving techniques or coping techniques

Different coping techniques can be used to reduce stress. Identification of stress rather the level of stress is the first step to cope with stress. The investigator asked them to list the coping strategies used to relieve stress. 65% of them believe positive thinking would help them to overcome stress. ‘Share with friends’ is the better option for 53% of them.35% of them suggest to ‘spend more time with family’.30 % say exercise can be do wonders and 25 % of the academic librarians follow meditation and yoga as the stress relieving technique. Some of them pointed out pets and some are interested in alcohol to ease stress. Conclusion ===

Redefine the role in organization and work load is the way alleviate work-related stress in academic libraries. Interpersonal relation among the employees must be soothing. Regular medical checkups are necessary for those who are suffering from stress. Stress can be negative or positive regarding how we see it and how we manage it. In Kerala, the academic library system is changing drastically in technological and policy level. Stress is definitely there. Further research on this must be carried out carefully. The problem must be treated more scientifically and psychologically.


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--Tony Cherian 08:54, 30 September 2011 (UTC)