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Creativity, Innovation, and Design Studio: Collaborating with Librarians

How Can I Collaborate with Librarians?

Use the links below to find a librarian to collaborate with as you plan your course. Browse through the remaining tabs for ideas on how to develop that collaboration. Then reach out to the librarian and together you can brainstorm and come up with additional ideas.

This list of library guides gives a more thorough picture of what disciplines are covered by subject librarians. Each guide typically shows which librarian created it. Research guides highlight resources and services available through the library for a particular discipline. Course guides showcase how a librarian and professorial faculty collaborated to tailor a library guide to the assignments and expectations of a specific class.

One major avenue for collaboration with librarians is through instruction. The following are a few ideas of how that might take shape:

  • You and the librarian team teach the entire course
  • You and the librarian design and build course assignments
  • The librarian teaches one or more sessions on
    • Searching for sources and background research
    • Evaluating sources
    • Using sources to support ideas/argument
    • Topics where he/she has expertise 
    • Remixing & reusing information (e.g., intellectual property, copyright, Creative Commons)
    • Research methods (e.g., interviewing, usability testing)

Librarians could play a role in the course by mentoring students throughout the semester. For example, science librarians could help with STEM related projects or the education librarian could help with children's book projects. This mentorship could involve the librarian doing one or more of the following:

  • Providing regular feedback on project development
  • Role playing with groups (e.g., librarian = customer; students = designer/product developer)
  • Acting as an audience for a protoype pitch


Many primary source materials are available in the library, from historical photos, journals, newspapers, books, posters, and films. Consulting with a librarian, you may find these types of materials will help your students think creatively and push their projects in new directions.

Along with teaching various aspects of the research process, as mentioned under the instruction tab, librarians can create online library guides specific to a course. These guides can direct students to databases, books, and other resources that will help them conduct background research and develop ideas for their course assignments. 

You may want your students to showcase their projects from the semester or archive their work. Librarians could help plan a poster session or project exhibit. They could also help your students upload papers or presentations or photographs of their work to ScholarsArchive, the library-based institutional repository. ScholarsArchive offers an online open access venue to store faculty and student research. It provides a permanent url that students could use to direct future employers or graduate schools to samples of their work.

Benefits of Librarian-Faculty Collaboration

By Derek Hansen, Associate Professor, Department of Information Technology 

  • Many exciting and impactful projects require an interdisciplinary team. Teaching in the interdisciplinary innovation space allows you to gain access to students and librarians with a wide range of existing skills and aptitudes that can be orchestrated into the creation of transformative projects with a significant impact. For example, former courses have contributed to nationally recognized projects, creative works, and research efforts that blended skills from artists, writers, advertisers, filmmakers, musicians, educators, and technologists to name a few.

  • Mutually beneficial relationships that span disciplines are established among students, faculty, and librarians. For example, due to prior courses and projects taught in the space, I now call upon students and librarians with unique skills that I do not have access to in my own department. Likewise, they have called upon me and my students to participate in interesting projects that have an information technology component. Several of these relationships have continued even past graduation.

  • Teaching a course to an interdisciplinary group is just plain fun. I tend to learn more, get stretched in new ways, and gain completely new perspectives. While it requires a different teaching style than some are used to, the workload is no more than traditional classes - it just shifts from more preparation time to more direct mentoring of students, which I find is highly rewarding. I’ve also found students to be highly engaged and motivated to do their best work in this environment.

  • Partnering with librarians can help you identify and effectively use new resources and opportunities for you and your students. With all of the responsibilities we have as faculty, it is hard to keep up on all the relevant resources and opportunities available to faculty and students. BYU’s library, which is consistently ranked among the top University libraries, has highly skilled librarians with advanced disciplinary degrees familiar with a diverse set of resources and ideas on how to integrate them into your class. Their breadth of training makes them outstanding interdisciplinary mentors who raise important questions and perspectives.