ARL National Digital Stewardship Residency Concludes with Release of OSF Toolkit

Megan Potterbusch at the Library of Congress, Thomas Jefferson Building

The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) has released a toolkit to support the deep engagement of librarians in the creation and management of digital scholarship. Developed by Megan Potterbusch, the toolkit is the outcome of Potterbusch’s yearlong National Digital Stewardship Residency (NDSR) hosted by ARL and administered by the Library of Congress. The toolkit—which includes presentations to faculty and librarians, resources for working with researchers, and project-structure/workspace examples in the Open Science Framework (OSF)—is the result of Potterbusch’s extensive outreach and consultation work with multiple research groups at The George Washington University (GW) this past academic year.

Built within the OSF, an open platform developed by the Center for Open Science (COS) that connects other, highly used, scholarly productivity and storage services, the toolkit is open for collaboration. Potterbusch hopes that the toolkit will be a starting place for additional contributions by librarians and other information professionals working on digital stewardship in close partnership with researchers. Digital stewardship is a broad concept—incorporating collection development, preservation, and scholarly communications activities.

During her residency, Potterbusch worked with digital humanists, bioinformaticists, and groups looking at the “science of team science” itself. As the toolkit reflects, she partnered with these research communities on open science, workflow optimization, research reproducibility, and information and data management. She also provided extensive training on using the OSF to both researchers and librarians.

Potterbusch’s residency was designed as a joint experience among ARL, the Center for Open Science, and the GW Libraries. The NDSR project team hypothesized that the OSF could serve as a low-barrier, collaborative space for a librarian to provide valuable information-management advice and support within a researcher’s existing workflow.

Jeffrey Spies, co-founder of COS and the original architect of the OSF, said, “COS appreciates Megan’s feedback from her perspective as a librarian using the OSF in partnership with researchers. We want the OSF to be a collaborative space for those two communities to work together.”

As Potterbusch recognized early in her initial outreach and engagement activity, researchers do not consider many digital stewardship practices to be part of the research life cycle. She wrote in an August 2017 blog post that, as a flexible, open platform, the “OSF facilitates improved digital stewardship behind the scenes while helping researchers accomplish aspects of research they do care about, such as dissemination, reproducibility, open science, and general project management.”

GW dean of libraries and academic innovation Geneva Henry said her expectations for the NDSR project were exceeded many times over. Henry added, “Megan was able to demonstrate through her persistent and targeted outreach to our faculty that perceived barriers to collaboration were surmountable. The library is now at the table in new conversations and relationships on campus.”

Prue Adler, ARL associate executive director for federal relations and information policy and one of Megan’s mentors, said, “Other ARL libraries that are seeking to increase their engagement in digital scholarship support will find inspiration in this toolkit. Through Megan’s documentation of her NDSR experience, the toolkit can serve as a model for interested libraries.”

For more information about this NDSR project, see Potterbusch’s blog posts about her residency.

About the Association of Research Libraries

The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) is a nonprofit organization of 123 research libraries in the US and Canada. ARL’s mission is to influence the changing environment of scholarly communication and the public policies that affect research libraries and the diverse communities they serve. ARL pursues this mission by advancing the goals of its member research libraries, providing leadership in public and information policy to the scholarly and higher education communities, fostering the exchange of ideas and expertise, facilitating the emergence of new roles for research libraries, and shaping a future environment that leverages its interests with those of allied organizations. ARL is on the web at

About the Center for Open Science

The Center for Open Science (COS) is a non-profit technology startup founded in 2013 with a mission to increase openness, integrity, and reproducibility of scientific research. COS pursues this mission by building communities around open science practices, supporting metascience research, and developing and maintaining free, open source software tools. The Open Science Framework (OSF), COS’s flagship product, is a web application that connects and supports the research workflow, enabling scientists to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of their research. Researchers use the OSF to collaborate, document, archive, share, and register research projects, materials, and data. Learn more at and

About the George Washington University Libraries

In the heart of our nation’s capital with additional programs in Virginia, the George Washington University was created by an Act of Congress in 1821. Today, GW is the largest institution of higher education in the District of Columbia. The university offers comprehensive programs of undergraduate and graduate liberal arts study, as well as degree programs in medicine, public health, law, engineering, education, business, and international affairs. Each year, GW enrolls a diverse population of undergraduate, graduate, and professional students from across the country and around the world. The George Washington University Libraries are a part of the larger GW Libraries and Academic Innovation organization, which combines the university’s key areas in support of teaching, learning, and research into one, integrated organization led by Dean Geneva Henry. GW Libraries and Academic Innovation is on the web at