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Strengthening the connection between your library and the writing center

October 5, 2018
A woman writes in a notebook.

A woman writes in a notebook. Image credit: Jessica Showalter

Libraries and writing centers have a lot in common—both focus on student needs and success, and both deal with the link between research and writing. For librarians seeking to increase collaboration with their colleagues at the writing center, I have compiled a list of ideas.

Some of these ideas come from my experience working as writing tutor at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and as a library staff member at Penn State Altoona; others come from two recent articles that serve as essential guides for library/writing center collaboration.

Holly Jackson’s article “Collaborating for student success: An e-mail survey of U.S libraries and writing centers” presents survey results from almost 200 library and writing center staff members about how they collaborate, what works, and what doesn’t.

Elise Ferer’s article “Working together: library and writing center collaboration” also provides many examples of library/writing center collaboration based on a literature review. She advises, “At most institutions it may be easier to start small with projects that will not require a large shift in the status quo. This can help build positive feelings for larger collaborative projects and help each group see where future work is needed” (555).

Keeping Ferer’s advice in mind, here is a list of suggestions ranging from simple and short-term to complex and long-term. Librarians might:

  • Designate a library contact person for writing center staff.
  • Meet with the writing center director regularly to stay current.
  • Refer students to the writing center.
  • Link to their website on the library’s page.
  • Cross-publicize events (social media, posters, word-of-mouth).
  • Attend events held at the writing center.
  • Create a citation handout or LibGuide tutorial.
  • Co-present a workshop for students or faculty.
  • Train library staff about writing center hours, services, resources.
  • Train writing center staff about library services and information literacy skills.
  • Serve as an embedded librarian at the writing center.
  • Invite embedded tutors to host a satellite site in the library.
  • Co-teach a course.
  • Share space with a learning commons.
  • Co-write scholarly articles with writing center staff.
  • Co-present at conferences.
  • Collaborate on gathering data and assessment.

Have you tried any of these approaches at your library? Do you have suggestions that aren’t listed? Please share in the comments.

Ferer, E. (2012). Working together: library and writing center collaboration. Reference Services Review, 40(4), 543-557. doi: 10.1108/00907321211277350

Jackson, H. A. (2017). Collaborating for student success: An e-mail survey of U.S. libraries and writing centers. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 43(4), 281-296. doi: 10.1016/j.acalib.2017.04.005

Jessica Showalter is an Information Resources and Services Support Specialist at Penn State Altoona’s Eiche Library. Say hello on Twitter @libraryjms

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