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OCLC - What makes is work? : Bert Looper

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Bert Looper, director of Tresoar, a merger of the state-archives, the public library and the literary museum of the province of Friesland (Netherlands) presented himself as an EMEA and Global Council delegate during the 2012 Birmingham conference. Read about his motivation to participate with OCLC.

I often ask myself: what is my most critical responsibility?

Of course, there are my own people, there are finances, there is a board of trustees but I am more and more convinced that there is only one answer possible, one answer that touches the heart of the business we are in.  I am, we are, as librarians, archivists and museum directors the gatekeepers to a very important, vital and global domain. It is the cultural domain of knowledge, of reflection, of individual and collective memory. We provide access to a public domain, a public space that is essential for the wellbeing of people and society. It is a domain that is always under threat of being occupied, commercialized and manipulated but there is one important power to make people aware of the importance of that domain, to make them self confident, to make them feel strong in their domain … and that is the power of free, open, clear and understandable access to that domain. We as librarians, archivists and museum directors are providing the fuel and the vehicle, the data, the information and the instruments of access to give people the power to understand reality and to create their own reality. That is what makes us going as information professionals.

In the digital era, our responsibility as gatekeepers is deepened and widened by the fact that the traditional organisational segregation of disciplines disappears. My own organisation is a merger of an archival organisation, a library and a museum. Only ten years ago those disciplines were separate worlds, but nowadays it is one powerful organisation in the heart of Frisian identity, collective memory and knowledge.

I think that in the forthcoming years, the integration of those disciplines, the integration of archival and library systems, is the key to our societal relevance and success. There are already wonderful examples of the combination of archival and library information, enabling people to personalise the information: it is about their street, their village and their ancestors. To achieve that success we depend on the building of strong systems that give access to the cultural domain. OCLC as a cooperative plays a vital role in the development and integration of existing and new systems that cover the whole domain of knowledge and personal and collective memory.

Against my own professional background and the background of my multidisciplinary organisation and of the need for integration, I want to participate in OCLC.  For us all, it is an ideal platform to make a contribution to that important task of giving people access to essentially, themselves!

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