Collaborations between Libraries and Writing/Tutoring Services are Diverse and Provide Opportunities to Support Student Success and Information Literacy Outcomes
A Review of:
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. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.acalib.2017.04.005
Objective – To collect information on the existence and characteristics of collaborative partnerships between libraries and writing centers/writing tutoring services.
Design – Email survey questionnaire.
Setting – Academic libraries, writing centers, and writing tutoring services at two-year, four-year, and graduate/professional institutions across the United States of America.
Subjects – 1,460 librarians, writing center staff, and tutoring services staff.
Methods – Subjects were invited to participate based on a “. . . random sampling of 33% of each institutional “Size and Setting” group from the 2010 Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education” and the availability of contact information for the library or writing center at the randomly sampled institutions (p. 282). Respondents who identified an existing partnership between the library and writing center/tutoring services answered questions regarding collaboration methods, training, and promotion as well as open-ended questions on goals, assessment, ideal relationship qualities, strengths, and weaknesses. In the absence of a known partnership, questions focused on potential for, and ideal methods of, collaboration.
Main Results – The survey had a response rate of 13.5%, based on the 197 responses that met the criteria for inclusion in the results. Of the respondents, 117 identified as librarians, 59 as writing center staff, and 21 as tutoring services staff. Respondents were affiliated with institutions in 43 states and the District of Columbia. 65% of respondents reported that a collaborative relationship between the writing center and library existed at their institution. Of those without a known current partnership, 77% believed there was potential for collaboration. Top existing collaborations included instruction (21%), student orientations (16%), appointments (14%), classroom presentations (14%), and writing tutors embedded in the library (14%). Only 35% identified strategic goals for collaborations. Respondents engaged in partnerships highlighted shared space, referrals, a unified focus on student success, and defined roles as top ideal partnership characteristics. Key partnership strengths included teamwork/relationship, focus on student success, and shared goals/knowledge/resources. Common weaknesses included lack of communication, planning, shared space, patron awareness, funding, staff, and collaboration.
Conclusion – Diverse collaborations between libraries and writing centers/writing tutoring services exist. These collaborations may provide opportunities to support student success and information literacy outcomes. Based on survey results, the author suggested that improved communication between partners could mitigate identified weaknesses and assist in achieving partnership ideals. Additionally, increased creation and assessment of strategic partnership goals may strengthen communication and planning. Many respondents were interested in shared library and writing center space, an area which requires further research. Ultimately, the author concluded that more investigation is needed to inform best practices for partnerships.
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