We Have to Talk about Collaboration: How a University Library and Writing Centre Work Together to Better Help Students with Information Literacy

Magnus Olsson, Annika Bindler


Many academic libraries are asked to do more for less money. By reaching out to other academic services, for example, the writing centre, might make it easier to fulfil the expected goals placed upon the library by the University administration (Ferer, 2012). However, there are also pedagogical reasons for collaboration. Academic librarians and academic writing tutors who transcend the traditional organizational boundaries within a university can together provide a more integrated picture of information seeking and the writing process for their students. This team approach, which emphasizes helping students become independent and active learners, can strengthen their academic skills, such as information literacy, that are essential when attending university.

Nevertheless, in Sweden the few university libraries that house writing centres simply share a location rather than collaborate on a routine basis. Umeå University Library is unusual because the Library and Writing Centre are organized in the same unit, Scholarly Communication, and work as a team. Collecting this expertise into one location allows students more comprehensive support and convenient access: "one-stop shopping" (Cooke & Bledsoe, 2008). Drawing on our practices, we will describe Umeå University Library’s collaborative approach to teaching information literacy.

Academic librarians are taking a greater role as literacy educators in helping students create personal knowledge (Elmborg, 2006). This personal knowledge is then transferred into writing where students demonstrate their evaluation and understanding of sources and through writing enter the conversations in their field, thereby finding their own voice. Rather than compartmentalizing these information seeking and writing processes, librarians and writing tutors can work together with students to help them navigate and come to understand that these processes are intricately linked.


information literacy, collaboration, writing centre


Cooke, R. & Bledsoe, C. (2008). Writing centers and Libraries: One-stop shopping for better term papers. The Reference Librarian, 49(2), 119-127. doi: 10.1080/02763870802101310

Elmborg, J. K. (2005). Libraries and writing centers in collaboration: a basis in theory. In: J. K. Elmborg & S. Hook (Eds.), Centers for learning: writing centers and libraries in collaboration (pp. 1-20). Chicago: Association of College and Research Libraries.

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

DOI: https://doi.org/10.15845/noril.v8i1.247

Copyright (c) 2016 Magnus Olsson, Annika Bindler

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University of Bergen Library

ISSN: 1890-5900