Map Location
E, 1
Thread Locations
Pages 26, 78

Andrea Phelps

Agreement Description

A library existing solely on intrinsically motivated members can bring about the end of a library if the community is in hard times. That is not to say that intrinsic motivation is a bad thing and should somehow be discouraged, but rather that some forms of extrinsic motivation can help bolster intrinsic.

Although it may be out of scope of the Atlas or this Thread, it may be worth noting that motivation has to start within the librarian. If the library staff is not motivated about their job in any way, motivating members will be a huge challenge. Any lack of motivation among staff is a hurdle that should be explored and addressed in some way before any real progress will be made outside of the library. A reference interview performed by an unmotivated librarian will be a bad experience for the member and librarian. A good place to start is to think about what motivates you and then ask members of your staff the same thing.

Motivation is at the core of everything librarians do and work toward. Libraries and librarians are supposed to be community focused; without understanding what motives drive the community they are a part of, fulfilling the needs of the community and serving their members is a tall order. Understanding motives can help with more than adjusting advertising to get new members into the library, it can help librarians conduct reference interviews, plan better programs and events, purchase appropriate technology, build better spaces, and acquire actually useful materials.

Related Artifacts

Among the many articles on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, the following two directly relate to librarians:

Anderson, S. (2004). How to dazzle Maslow preparing your library, staff and teens to reach self-actualization. Public Library Quarterly, 23(3/4), 49–59.

Annotation: Although focused on a specific age group, Anderson’s article addresses how librarian’s can map Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs to the services they provide. It provides a good example of a smaller scale incorporation of the Hierarchy of Needs into a library setting and a more intellectual approach to the Hierarchy.

The Chronicle of Philanthropy. (2006, December 16). Philadelphia library offers jobs to the formerly homeless. Retrieved from

Annotation: As mentioned above, the Philadelphia Library took a more literal view of the Hierarchy of Needs and took steps to solve the basic needs expressed by the population of homeless, incorporating some of Maslow’s ideals on a much larger scale.

The following two articles look closer at intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.

Antoni, G. (2009). Intrinsic vs. extrinsic motivations to volunteer and social capital formation. Kyklos, 62(3), 359–370.

Annotation: This article discusses some of the effects of actions based on intrinsic versus extrinsic motives. We discussed in Blackboard how extrinsic motivation can carry negative connotations and have a lasting effect on members, but intrinsic motivation can be easily swayed. This article looks at some other effects of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation in volunteer work and may have some really interesting insights into how to leverage both forms of motivation in a library setting.

Wiechman, B., & Gurland, S. (2009). What happens during the free-choice period? Evidence of a polarizing effect of extrinsic rewards on intrinsic motivation. Journal of Research in Personality, 43(4), 716–719.

Annotation: This article looks at the harm to intrinsic motivation that can occur when an activity is given an extrinsic reward as well. The analyses of these phenomena among college students seem central to how librarians should advertise and extrinsically motivate their members.

Last, these two articles look more specifically at children and young adults, and how they are motivated:

Roeser, R., & Peck, S. (2009). An education in awareness: Self, motivation, and self- regulated learning in contemplative perspective. Educational Psychologist, 44(2), 119–136.

Annotation: Roeser and Peck present Contemplative Education as a means of motivating students. A few of the subcategories worth looking at in depth are those involving community membership and teacher–student relationships (which in many ways compare to that of a librarian and student, particularly in a reference interview). Although very conceptual, the article has some really interesting ideas about intrinsic motivation and how to spark intrinsic motivation in children.

Tatar, M. (2009). From bookworms to enchanted hunters: Why children read. The Journal of Aesthetic Education, 43(2), 19–36.

Annotation: Tatar looks at what attracts children to books and reading. Although not a broad look at how people are motivated, it is certainly an interesting look at what librarians should take into account for reader advisories and ways to interest children in reading.