The September/October 2007 issue of Psychology Today has a small item on page 16 that says, “Two studies show that potential helpers…overestimate how often people will approach them, because they underestimate how much asking for assistance challenges people’s self-esteem.” (The two studies are not identified.)
It just serves to remind all of us library workers, and especially the reference librarians, that we need to look up and around more often, to offer rather than wait to be approached. I know I’ve been places–even libraries–where I have been reluctant to ask for help I needed. I wouldn’t have said it was my self-esteem that was in question, but that I hated to bother someone who looked busy or otherwise less than approachable. Whatever the reason, some people will not ask for the help they really need.