Published June 24, 2019 | Version v1
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Beyond Assisting Digital Humanities Scholars: 5 Years of Researchers-in-Residence at the National Library of the Netherlands

  • 1. Koninklijke Bibliotheek


Slides of the paper presentation as presented at the Liber Conference 2019, Wednesday 26 June 2019, Dublin, Ireland.


The rise of the digital humanities has posed research libraries to new challenges. Since researchers’ demands and requests are changing, libraries need to adopt their services while staff members need to update their knowledge of new methodologies to become the research librarian of the future (Ekstrøm et al, 2016). To learn more about the changing needs of researchers, the National Library of the Netherlands (KB) has set up the Researcher-in-Residence Program five years ago. The program allows early-career researchers to spend six months at the KB’s Research Department to work on their research question together with technical support from one of KB’s Research Software Engineers, collections expertise from a digital curator and project support from a digital scholarship advisor while using KB’s digital collections (Wilms, 2017). Since 5 years, 11 researchers participated in the program, 7 tools have been built and 5 datasets were created and published on the KB Lab at

In this paper we will reflect on the lessons learned and benefits of the program for the KB after five years, both on the short as well as long term. Which user needs did we identify? How could research libraries adopt to these changing needs? And what more can research libraries gain from collaborating with researchers?

We will address these questions by first focusing on the short-term benefits. We will give an overview of all the projects and the evaluation of the program done in 2017 by visiting researcher Michael Gasser. Second, we will share the long-term benefits of the program for the KB by highlighting two aspects: 1) The researcher-in-residence program creates ambassadors for the library as the researchers promote their work and therefore our collection and Lab to their community.  2) By hosting researchers at the offices of the KB, we were not only able to assist and learn from them but also got to know them and their supervisors better. This allowed us to increase our academic network, set-up several follow-up research projects and currently we are exploring the implementation of one of the projects’ outcomes in one of the KB’s services.

By showcasing this follow-up project, we follow the plea of Peter Leonard to ‘put TDM in the mainstream’ (2016). Similarly, Humphreys (2018) called for ‘Applied Digital Humanities’ just like Kleppe (2018) referred to ‘Libraries as incubators for DH Research Results’. It shows how research libraries can benefit in several ways of collaborating with Digital Humanities scholars: not only by assisting them but also by going beyond a service-oriented approach and acts as full research partner (Boekestein 2017; Ekstrøm et al, 2016).


Boekestein, E., Wilms, L. & Kleppe, M. (2017). From idea to implementation: How the Dutch national library is championing innovation. Computers in Libraries. 37. 28-32.

Ekstrøm, Jeanette, et al. “The Research Librarian of the Future: Data Scientist and Co-Investigator.” Impact of Social Sciences, 14 Dec. 2016, 

Humpfreys (2018) The Case for Applied Digital Humanities in Scholarly Communications. Presented at the SSP Annual Meeting, Chicago.

Kleppe (2018), Bringing Digital Humanities to the wider public: libraries as incubator for DH research results. Keynote at the Language Technologies & Digital Humanities 2018 conference, Ljubljana, Slovenia, 20-21 September 2018

Leonard, P.  Digital Humanities In and Out of the Library. Keynote at the Liber 2016 Conference, Helsinki, Finland, 30 June 2016

Wilms, Lotte. (2017, December 4). The Researcher-in-residence programme at the KB, National Library of the Netherlands. Arbido.


20190626 - Beyond Assisting DH Scholars DEF.pdf

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