Meet Barbara Sierman

Meet Barbara Sierman

Barbara Sierman is the chair of the OPF Board and Digital Preservation consultant at the Koninklijke Bibliotheek (KB)

Her generous and long-standing contribution to the digital preservation community was recently recognised when she was presented with the DPC Fellowship at the Digital Preservation Awards 2018. For our winter newsletter, we interviewed Barbara to learn more about her work:

How did you get here? What was your path into digital preservation?

I started at the KB in 2005. After my study of Dutch Literature I started working at PICA Library automation as a consultant. A few years later I decided to broaden my scope and started working at an organisation that maintained core administrative systems of Dutch universities. From there I moved to Cap Gemini as a consultant. Throughout all those years I still did research on 18th century Dutch literature and was involved in several initiatives related to that, like publishing, chairing a foundation and organizing literary meetings. Already during my study I saw the potential of automation for this domain (perhaps now I would have chosen Digital Humanities) and wanted to be involved, so I applied for a vacancy at the KB as digital preservation officer…

What are you working on at the moment?

Two things are important for me now. For the KB the role of a library is changing and we need to discuss what digital material we want to collect (as we don’t have a legal deposit) and whether we prefer the digital version above the physical version. This poses the question what do we see as a publication plus the technical consequences. We are trying to figure that out to have criteria supporting our decisions.

As well as being OPF chair, my other focus is on the activities related to our national Digital Heritage Network, and amongst other things I’m teaching about preservation policies and, as vice chair, I’m involved in organizing iPRES 2019 in Amsterdam.

What do you see as the main benefit of OPF membership?

OPF was originally founded to create a safe place for tools that were developed in European projects. As tools and software are still an important ingredient of digital preservation, I see OPF as an organization that will take care of tools in use in a professional way,  involving the community around those tools, including users and vendors. This is reflected in our new Strategy. The other element is the value of collaborating together and to offer members a place to learn, to improve and to make things happen, like we see in the OPF Interest groups around JHOVE and Significant Properties.

Who are you / what do you like to do in your free time?

I love reading, at least a few books a week! And hiking. Weather permitting I’ll work in our garden-at-a-distance: 20 minutes by bike we have a plot on a garden park with a small wooden house on it, 3 mature birches, several hundred bulbs including the iPRES 2019 tulips and lots of other plants. Every year I promise to give my plants more attention.

Barbara Sierman


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