Summer 2018

In August 2018, Connected Scholarship and ScholarSpace piloted Scholar Sprints with two projects: Mapping Toll Barriers in Medieval Japan with Paula Curtis (PhD Candidate in History); and Human Nature: The Nichols Arboretum and its Communities with Matthew Woodbury (Postdoctoral Fellow in History).

Paula and two library staff working together at a desktop computer
Paula and four library staff discussing their project at a table with a large display screen
Paula writing Japanese characters on the whiteboard wall as team members look on

Over a period of four days, Paula collaborated with a team of Librarian specialists in developing a foundational workflow design around OCR image processing; data extraction techniques; and data management plan with reference to Chūsei no sekisho, a core text in her research on toll barriers in medieval Japan. Based on a series of hands-on exploration, the team produced a work guide that included pre-scanning considerations for OCR; technical specifications for tests using ABBYY FineReader and Acrobat Pro; information on relevant platforms and digitization formats for CJK characters; and considerations for text and image processing, data management, and copyright.

Matthew listening carefully as the team discusses at their table
A team member writes on the whiteboard wall while others watch
A team member points to a large display as others look on

Concurrently, Matthew worked with another set of Librarian expertise to delineate the learning goals of his pilot freshmen-level seminar on Arboretum’s environmental histories, as well as explore an appropriate web-publishing platform for student work and community building. Together, the team built a class Google site as well as a “how-to” guide for students in conversation with his course syllabus, incorporating such concerns as data privacy, participant consent, data management, web accessibility, public writing, community archiving, and copyright.

The daily reflections kept alive the organic, engaging, and exploratory nature of this initiative. Most importantly, those reflections helped us identify and invite input from new and related specialists. We want to thank all participants for their generous and generative work at Scholar Sprints. The energy and excitement of these project-based collaborations were palpable throughout our time together. Here's our initiative's #Wakelet collection (courtesy of Meghan Sitar).

The Scholar Sprints pilot was intended as an invitation to faculty, students, and our wider academic community to strengthen scholarly connections with diverse expertise in the Library. Sprints were as much an opportunity to connect with scholars as they were a place for the librarians to come together and learn with each other. Our program was guided by a strong commitment to the values of diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility by attending to the issue of equitable labor in scholarly collaborations, as well as supporting research, teaching, and creative projects that contribute to the public good.

We are excited about moving forward with the two teams and sharing their work guides and project samples with everyone. Based on program feedback, Diana and I are equally excited to plan for next year’s Scholar Sprints, tentatively scheduled for spring. We will keep you updated on next steps.

Handwritten notes on whiteboard, including "Investigating Platforms" and "Student Learning Goals"

The whiteboard wall in ScholarSpace was often filled with pedagogical goals and technology considerations.