The Oregon State University Libraries and Press (OSULP) has been awarded the ACRL Instruction Section Innovation Award for 2019 for their Undergraduate Research and Writing Studio. Opened in 2017, the Studio provides a place for undergraduate students to work on writing projects and receive assistance with writing and research from trained peers. The Studio is a collaboration between the Writing Center and the OSULP. The implementation and ongoing steering team includes Writing Center and OSULP staff, including: Dennis Bennett, Chris Ervin, and Vanessa Petroj from the Writing Center and Anne-Marie Deitering, Beth Filar Williams, Uta Hussong-Christian, Hannah Gascho Rempel and Jane Nichols from the library.
The award includes recognition in the C&RL News, a plaque, and $3000.
ACRL-OR was able to ask a few questions of the team. Their answers are provided below (ACRL also published a short interview).
Our heartiest congratulations to OSULP and to the implementation team on this prestigious award. Read on for some of their comments.
Who or what was the driving force behind creating the Studio?
Jane: There was a pressing need for more space for the writing center because they were outgrowing their space. At the same time there was a rising idea of reclaiming and re-invigorating the space where tutoring was happening in the library, the Collaborative Learning Center (CLC). The library had been aware of the trend of library – writing center partnerships and locating the campus writing center in the library. The Associate University Librarian for Learning Spaces, Anne-Marie Deitering, and the Writing Center Director, Dennis Bennett, began talking about partnering with an eye towards addressing respective service goals centered on student learning and success. As discussions progressed, the idea to move into the library gained traction and was approved by senior leadership by both the library and the writing center. Following this, a team was tasked with carrying out the project.
An important foundation to the relationship is the creation of a Memorandum of Understanding which outlines various aspects of the terms of agreement and includes substantive calls for the partners to collaborate on issues such as learning outcomes, service design, assessment, and training.
What was the collaboration process like between librarians, writing center staff, and media specialists?
Beth Filar Williams and Uta Hussong-Christian: The nine months we all worked together on the implementation team was truly a collaborative process. Over the duration of our well-organized and facilitated bi-weekly meetings, we used a service design process to develop a shared holistic student-focused framework for the project. In the process of working through space and service concepts and eventually plans, we learned a lot about each other as individuals and about what our respective units did. This helped us compromise in ways that worked for everyone. By the time the space opened, we had laid the groundwork for our partnership as we went through the ups and downs of the first year (and beyond) of Research & Writing Studio operations.
What did writing center folks learn about the library/librarians that was new to them and what did librarians learn about writing center folks that was new to them?
Jane Nichols: As librarians we were unfamiliar with the extensive training, much of it focused on theory and pedagogical concepts, that the student writing consultants received. We appreciated seeing the consultants be open to learning about the theoretical foundations to their work.
Chris Ervin: Something I already knew as an experienced academic is that there is more happening within other disciplines than those of us who are disciplinary outsiders understand. Working alongside librarians and in the physical space of the library has shown me some of the inner workings of the discipline of librarianship, in particular where those inner workings come into contact with the Studio. For example, we in writing centers and writing studies don’t tend to think of the work we do as “service,” but rather as teaching and mentoring. There’s even a debate within our discipline about whether to consider first-year writing as a “service course” (in service to the other disciplines) or as an introduction to the discipline of writing studies. Librarians, however, often use language like that—service points, service models, etc., but I understand better what that means now. The “information seeking process” that’s iterative is very much like our studio pedagogy approach, also iterative. Librarians must suffer a fundamental misunderstanding (from the public, students, faculty) of the work they do, just like writing center professionals. One place that misunderstanding comes into the Studio is in what students think of the role of our research consultants. Students, I believe, want to see the research consultant’s role as serving their information needs rather than teaching them skills that will help them meet their own information needs. As a writing center professional whose priority is facilitating student learning through teaching (classroom or one-to-one), I see the potential for research consultants to practice the studio pedagogy we associate with writing consultations—the process-focused, metacognitive kinds of conversations that would encourage research writers to investigate their own research processes and to advance their information literacy skills.
What do you see as the next steps for the Studio?
Beth: I would like to continue to grow the partnership and iterate as we learn more from assessment. I hope we can integrate Student Mulitmedia Services better maybe in an adjacent space? And I hope we get a better referral process to library liaisons and to other resources.
What are you all going to use the $3000 for?
Chris: The four members of the Studio Steering Committee have agreed that the funds will be used mostly or fully to support the Studio’s food pantry. Because Oregon State University’s students, like college students around the country, wrestle with food indsecurity, we created a pantry in the Studio for our student staff. The $3000 will be used to stock the pantry for at least a year, possibly more.
Hannah, this comes on the heels of you being selected as the ACRL IS Featured Teaching Librarian in 2018. Is it safe to say you’re now a library rock star?
Hannah: Hannah who? In other news, tickets are on sale now for my upcoming world-wide tour “Curiouser and Curiouser.”
Anything else you want the Oregon academic library community to know about this award or about the Studio?
Beth: We welcome visitors and conversation as we grow our knowledge, our services, and learn about best practices.