For our Spring newsletter interview, we talked to Jeffrey van der Hoeven, Head of the Digital Preservation department at the National Library of the Netherlands and OPF Board member:
Tell us a bit about yourself and your role
Since 2017 I’ve been leading the Digital Preservation department at the National Library of the Netherlands. In this role, I’m responsible for the business unit which ensures our digital collections remain accessible and understandable over the long term. A challenging and demanding job but also very satisfying when you realise what you can achieve together with a team of motivated people working on the preservation of our digital treasures. In practice it includes tasks such as defining the strategic direction on preservation at the library, setting policies and processes as well as getting the right equipment in place to perform our preservation work. Of course, our e-Depot is part of that toolset. Luckily I’m blessed with a team of 15 highly skilled people who know much more than I do alone 🙂
How did you get here? What was your path into digital preservation?
As a fresh graduate in computer engineering back in 2004 (I graduated from IBM’s Universal Virtual Computer / UVC) I started my career at the National Library of the Netherlands as a researcher on digital preservation with a particular focus on emulation. It was fantastic to work on projects like Dioscuri: the first Java-emulator for digital preservation, and EU projects PLANETS and KEEP (Keeping Emulation Environments Portable). In the latter, we defined an Emulation Framework of which the concepts have been taken forward by the EaaS-service. I’m very proud of that.
From then on, I focused on managerial tasks by first becoming a project manager and later a team lead for our online services at the library. I moved out of the scene of digital preservation for a couple of years in which I learned a lot about the needs of customers in the public library domain, research and heritage. Preservation is not an activity on its own, it has the purpose to serve people who reuse our information, also in the future. With this knowledge and experience, I felt ready to become head of the Digital Preservation department.
What are you working on at the moment?
Our focus is on keeping our digital collection safe, in its total size and diversity. This has become very challenging as the collection has grown significantly towards a shocking 1 billion files and entails a great variety of publications such as digitized books, magazines and newspapers as well as born-digital e-books, scientific articles and harvested web sites. To cope with this we need to renew our whole infrastructure, update our processes and get it working all together. Recently, we signed a deal with Ex Libris for the use of Rosetta and will start implementing and migrating our collections this year. But it will take many years for completion. It is both a sprint race (to prevent damage to digital content) and well as an endurance race due to its long period of migration and validation.
What do you see as the main benefit of OPF membership?
With OPF we can rely on a professional organization that takes care of lifecycle management for very important tools in preservation. Next to that, OPF is also an important partner for us offering skills and sharing knowledge via very useful training events and webinars. I find it of great importance to have such an organization as many heritage organizations rely on the quality of tools such as veraPDF and Jpylyzer. It is of general interest to ensure this is being continued.
Who are you / what do you like to do in your free time?
What free time? Just joking, but to be honest, work takes a large chunk of my time as well as being there for my family. Raising three young kids is a challenging and responsible task on its own. But spending time with my family is certainly joyful. And if I do happen to have some real spare time for myself alone I like carpentry to make some furniture, do some gardening, take a walk and if I would like to have a stressful Sunday on the tip of the couch I watch a Formula 1 race. I am obsessed with how F1 teams operate in a pressure cooker of strategy, innovation, knowledge and teamwork in dedication to win.