Information Literacy and Writing Studies in Conversation: Reenvisioning Library-Writing Program Connections

By Maley, Desmond | Partnership : the Canadian Journal of Library and Information Practice and Research, July 1, 2017 | Go to article overview

Information Literacy and Writing Studies in Conversation: Reenvisioning Library-Writing Program Connections


Maley, Desmond, Partnership : the Canadian Journal of Library and Information Practice and Research


Baer, A. (2016). Information Literacy and Writing Studies in Conversation: Reenvisioning Library-Writing Program Connections. Sacremento, CA: Library Juice Press. ISBN 978-1-63400-021-5.

Baer, a librarian at the University of West Georgia with a PhD in comparative literature, builds a compelling case for shared programming between librarians and writing instructors. The book appears to owe its inspiration to "Writing Information Literacy," rhetorician Rolf Norgaard's two-part editorial published in Reference and User Services Quarterly in 2003-04, which Baer highlights in both the introduction and the conclusion. Yet little appears to have changed in the interval since Norgaard's manifesto, which also called for a partnership. For the most part, librarians and compositionists have dwelt (and dwell) in separate silos, despite the evident interconnectedness of information seeking, information use, and writing.

Librarians would benefit from being more integrated into the scholarly conversation about writing. Baer insightfully discusses how student writers struggle with understanding "disembodied" texts. The writer's "voice" may not emerge if the research materials are not re-contextualized with a critical lens. The result can be plagiaristic forms of paraphrase, not to mention cut-and-paste, as the student becomes less and less invested in developing their own ideas. This in turn raises questions about whether the research essay is the best forum for stimulating meaningful writing.

Librarians have their own distinctive contributions to make. Student researchers face serious challenges in comprehending citations, understanding the organization of catalogues and databases, and employing more sophisticated search techniques than keyword searching. Were librarians more "embedded" in the curriculum, they could also ruminate on issues such as critical information literacy, the construction of authority, and net neutrality, which profoundly influence research and writing. These themes are problematic to discuss when library instruction is viewed only as an adjunct.

Baer points out the striking degree of complementarity between the Framework for Success in Postsecondary Writing of the Council of Writing Program Administrators (WPA) and the Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education of the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL). …

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