The use of critical incident technique to highlight problems of student library use at Manchester Polytechnic Library is described. The basic premise of the research was that students′ self‐sufficiency could not be increased until these problems were more fully understood. Critical incident technique uses broad prompts to allow the subjects to describe a specific incident, thereby providing a clear picture of the actual problem. The resulting interviews revealed a wide spectrum of problems, ranging from the use of the catalogue and difficulties locating books to the reluctance of students to ask for help and a phenomenon identified as library anxiety.
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