Writing centers and libraries seem to be natural partners. Academic writing requires use of a variety of sources that students are often asked to find through the library. Related, there is much overlap between the work of writing center personnel and librarians in supporting students in learning the conventions of academic writing and information literacy. Unfortunately, this overlap can be invisible or, worse, conflicting and confusing to students.
How have librarians worked successfully with writing centers? A study by Elise Ferer (2012) provides a good summary of the many ways in which libraries and writing centers can work together for student success. Her article inspired these categories and examples:
- Regular meetings and getting to know one another: This is how partnerships begin. And it might be all that is needed to identify overlaps and ensure each is providing good services to students.
- Training personnel in each unit on the other’s services: This was the most common collaboration between writing centers and libraries that Ferer found. This is often a next step after the regular meetings.
- Outreach partnerships: Use cross-promotion to the wider campus community and include each other in outreach events.
- Sharing space: Some college writing centers are physically located inside or nearby campus libraries. The close proximity can encourage additional collaboration. At Ohio State University, the Writing Center offers services in multiple locations, one of which is a library. Librarians in the writing center can take a variety of forms such as office hours and workshops. Shared space supports this form of collaboration as demonstrated by Holly Jackson’s (2016) research poster about the history of the partnership between the Library and Writing Center at Wright State University. The Writing Center began offering hours in the library in 2009 and by the fall of 2016, when Jackson presented the poster, there were four librarians and two students working in the Writing Center four days a week.
- Co-teaching and assignment design: Janelle Zauha (2014) encourages moving beyond sharing space to shared teaching and programming to “breach the traditional boundaries” (p.5) of each and build meaningful learning communities among students. The example shared in her article was a series of WriteNight research and writing clinics at Montana State University. At Ohio State, a librarian and the leader of the Writing Across the Curriculum Center, are co-designing a professional development course for faculty on meaningful inquiry
Writing Centers and Libraries are natural partners, yet the form these partnerships take must match the culture and needs of the institution. Use the comments section below to post additional examples (or goals) from your institution!
This article also appears in The Credo Second-Year Transition Guide: Extending Retention and Student Success Efforts Beyond the FYE. Use this free guide to further develop your library's programming around instruction, faculty collaboration, and student engagement!
Ferer, Elise. (2012) "Working together: library and writing center collaboration", Reference Services Review, Vol. 40 Issue: 4, pp.543-557, https://doi.org/10.1108/00907321211277350
Jackson, H. A. (2016). The Write Time to Collaborate: Strengthening the Ties between the Library and Writing Center. https://corescholar.libraries.wright.edu/ul_pub/1
Zauha, J. M. (2014). Peering Into the Writing Center: Information Literacy as Collaborative Conversation. Communications in Information Literacy, 8 (1), 1-6. https://doi.org/10.15760/comminfolit.2014.8.1.160