Finding ways to partner with course faculty in their research and instruction can be problematic. A shortage of time or other resources may prevent a partnership, but the failure to communicate librarian skill sets to course faculty is even more problematic. The concept of Research Sprints was born as a solution to both of these problems, and this toolkit provides other universities the necessary equipment to host their own Research Sprints.
Research Sprints perform targeted outreach that highlights the skillsets of librarians, and advance research and pedagogical endeavors within universities. During a Research Sprint, course faculty partner with a team of librarians to work exclusively on a project for one week. This toolkit serves as a resource for librarians and others wishing to implement Research Sprints at their own institution.
Dr. Pamella R. Lach, then Head of the Center for Faculty and Staff Initiatives and Engagement at KU Libraries, now Digital Humanities Librarian at San Diego State University and Brian Rosenblum, co-director of the Institute for Digital Research in the Humanities created this concept and developed and piloted the first Research Sprints at the University of Kansas (KU) Libraries in May 2016. Much of the ensuing work done on Research Sprints follows the original idea created at KU. The initial Research Sprints program hosted three projects in areas of journalism, geology, and communications. Each of the projects was scoped to produce a tangible product within the week but also fit into the course faculty members’ large research and instruction projects and goals. Most importantly, each projected required particular skill sets that the course faculty member did not possess.
Research Sprints are structured to foster creativity and purposeful work. Prior to the week of Research Sprints, teams meet to establish their goals and related tasks. To kick off the week, teams gather for a Monday breakfast to share the purpose and intended outcomes of their projects. After intensive work, the teams reassemble Friday to share their accomplishments.
In 2017 the University of Minnesota adapted the Research Sprints, while KU continued to develop their program.
At KU in 2017, librarians developed a committee to organize the Sprints and review applications. Moreover, they formalized the application and made it more transparent. The committee conducts the first review of applications before sharing them with external reviewers and potential team members for input. Based on the initial and external reviews, the committee accepts three projects for Research Sprints.
Both KU and UMN have found that Research Sprints help strengthen their ties with faculty and raise the profile of the libraries at their university.