People engage very often in multitasking behaviours because of the complexity of everyday life and work environments. As life becomes more complex, people engage in multiple actions with multiple roles (Bühneret al., 2006). Multitasking is a frequent human behaviour especially in environments, which are combined by multiple and complex information systems (Pesante et al.2001; Rubinstein et al., 2001; MacIntyre et al., 2001).
Many researchers have explored information behaviour in libraries, but few have investigated multitasking information behaviour in this environment. This research tried to explore through a case study anxiety and its effect on multitasking information behaviour and information task switching under time pressure in a library.
Participant searched information for three unrelated everyday life information tasks during a library visit, in a timeframe of one hour. Participant took the STAI T (trait)-anxiety test before the library visit to measure anxiety level as a personal characteristic. She also took STAI S (state)-anxiety test before, during and after the information seeking process to measure anxiety levels regarding this particular behaviour
The results suggested that participant had high levels of anxiety before engaged in multitasking information behaviour The reason for that was the worry about the performance as well as the identification of the right resources. During the multitasking information behaviour participant still had anxiety to find the right information. The levels of anxiety, however, were less and correlated with library’s good organized structure. At the end of the information searching process, the levels of anxiety dropped significant and calm and safety returned. Participant felt more comfortable and relaxed. Finally, participant first searched information for topics that were more important and for which she had prior knowledge When people, under time pressure, have access to well organized information, the levels of anxiety might decrease.
Multitasking information behavior is a multidimensional process, which is combined by various psychological variables such as anxiety. If researchers explore in depth this behaviour then librarians and scientists could work together in order to help people seek information in libraries properly. Better information environments could reduce people’s negative emotions such as frustration and anxiety and increase the successful outcomes of the information seeking process such as gain of knowledge.