Positioning the Writing Centre
Liminality, Identity, and the Future Library
Keywords:writing centre, academic literacy, information literacy, library service, liminality
Implicit in the discussion about the “open” future of the library are questions about the library’s identity in an increasingly digital context and anticipations of change (Anderson et al., 2017). But the “open” future of the library does not need to be a passive future. Much like the traditional library, whose books and reading rooms were positioned between students and faculties, the future library can still occupy a similar liminal space, even as digital access supplants books and librarians do less shushing.
But the future library must actively seek to occupy that space. As a future library service, a writing centre can be positioned to help do so.
This paper draws on the experience of the Academic Writing Centre at the University of Oslo (UiO). As part of the University Library, the Writing Centre is already actively helping to mediate the space between students and instructors. Empowered by its liminal position, the Writing Centre offers tailored, non-hegemonic writing support based on student and faculty needs.
As a best practices presentation, this paper identifies key aspects of the Writing Centre’s operational model to demonstrate how the Writing Centre at UiO has already begun to actively (re)position the University Library in the space between students and faculties. Drawing from Academic Literacy theory (Lillis, 2001; Lea & Street, 1998), this paper characterizes the space between students and instructors in the context of academic writing, emphasizing the aspects of identity formulation germane to the writing process (Ivanič, 1998; Lillis, 2010), as well as the faculties’ mandates to develop discourse literacy. From its liminal position between the faculties and the students, and with an awareness of the nature of the gap between the two, the Writing Centre (as part of the University Library) aims to actively support students and instructors toward each other and spark broader collaboration with the University Library, now and in the future.
On a practical level, this paper discusses successes and challenges for the Academic Writing Centre so far and offers insight into the Writing Centre’s important role in the future library.
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Copyright (c) 2020 David A. Burke
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