New e-Director appointed by the British Library

From: Barbara Lincoln <babs.lincoln_at_BL.UK>
Date: Tue, 3 Jul 2001 10:16:43 +0100

The British Library has appointed its first e-Director as part of a wider
restructuring of its top tier of management.

The appointment of Dr Herbert Van de Sompel as Director of e-Strategy and
Programmes was announced today and he will join the Library on 1 September
2001 completing the BL’s new streamlined senior management team.

Charged with extending access to resources, both for customers and members
of the public, the team will implement strategy across a broad range of
activities of the UK’s national library. The post of e-Director in
particular will be central in taking forward the British Library’s vision
of a digital future for its collections and services.

“Our e-Strategy will be at the core of the Library’s work and will underpin
many of our priority developments,” said the British Library’s Chief
Executive, Lynne Brindley. “As Director of e-Strategy and programmes,
Herbert will be the driving force behind the development of the British
Library’s e-strategy, pushing forward the role of electronic media and
services in providing public access, opening up collections, creating
productive partnerships with the library and scholarly network and
developing new enterprises.”

Lynne Brindley continued, “Herbert Van de Sompel brings an international
reputation in the digital library field, a deep understanding of what is
technically possible, combined with a real sense of service mission. With
his European and North American links he will ensure that the British
Library plays a leading role internationally in creating our digital

Dr Van de Sompel joins the Library having spent the past year as Visiting
Professor of Computer Science at Cornell University. For 17 years he was
head of the library automation department at the University of Ghent,
Belgium where he led an ambitious programme to create an outstanding
electronic library and planned and implemented a range of innovative

More recently he worked at the renowned Research Library at the Los Alamos
National Laboratory, on a PhD focusing on open reference linking (OpenURL
and SFX) and the Open Archives Initiative. The PhD was awarded in Spring
2000, following examination by two key figures in digital library
developments: William Y. Arms (Professor of Computer Science at Cornell
University) and Clifford Lynch (Director of the Coalition for Networked
Information, USA).

Dr Van de Sompel’s work has received much recognition in both the digital
library community and in the academic world. He has also acted as a
consultant to many key information industry companies on strategy and on
the conceptualisation or evaluation of new digital services.

As e-Director he will lead the BL’s transformation to an e-centric
organisation, pulling together historically discrete and disparate
programmes, acting as champion and advocate for e-strategy and leading an
integrated Digital Library development programme. Major transformational
developments to be supervised and driven forward by the e-Director include
the digitisation of many of the Library’s collections as well as the
archiving of materials that are “born digital”. Working in close
collaboration with the rest of the executive team, Dr Van de Sompel will
ensure the implementation of a fully integrated e-programme across all
Directorates – adding the essential e-ingredient to the British Library’s
strategies for progress.

Commenting on his appointment, Dr Van de Sompel said: “Research libraries
around the world are trying to define their identity in the digital
domain. With its recently released New Strategic Directions document, the
British Library has made a clear statement regarding the e-position it
wants to be in; I am very excited about being able to play a role in the
genuinely challenging process of getting there. Currently,
welcomes users to the website of the British Library. A few years from now,
the same URL should welcome them to the whole British Library.”

Offering Dr Van de Sompel warm congratulations on his appointment, Lynne
Brindley added, “This new role represents a more coherent and strategic
approach towards the various strands of activity that comprise the British
Library’s programme of digitisation. It will also lead the way in the
development of the Library’s wider e-strategy. The e-Director will oversee
the transformational changes to the Library’s culture and working practices
that are necessary in order for us to fully embrace the digital and wider e-
revolution – adapting our collections and services to remain at the leading
edge of research and reference worldwide.”

For further information, please contact Ben Sanderson at the British
Library Press Office on 01937 546126, or email
Received on Wed Jan 03 2001 - 19:17:43 GMT

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