In the spotlight with Erik Boekesteijn!

In the spotlight with Erik Boekesteijn! Libraries have seen dramatic changes in the last years because of COVID and other external forces. Therefore as librarians look to the future, we thought we’d ask global movers and shakers in the library industry just what makes them tick.

In the spotlight with Erik Boekesteijn!

Erik Boekesteijn is a Senior Advisor at Koninklijke Bibliotheek (KB), National Library of the Netherlands Erik has the privilege of having a rather ‘free’ role, but a big part of his work is helping local libraries and library organisations with ideas on services and design, strategic planning and mission and vision. Besides this he is an international radar and curator of amazing networks and works through different layers and departments within the National Library of the Netherlands thinking and putting in practice new ideas. He is actively involved in Public Libraries 2030 in Brussels working on several EU projects. He is also Trustee to the Board of StoryHouse in Chester, UK and Fellow to the University of Syracuse in the US.

I feel very honoured to have met and worked with Erik across the globe from Belgium, Edinburgh and Australia to Washington! He is undoubtedly a mover and shaker, an influential, forward-thinking, innovative and charismatic leader.

Erik is also an amazing presenter, motivator, musician, author, entrepreneur, and above all a storyteller. He has worked with hundreds of libraries and other organizations around the world on a variety of challenges. After a start in the music industry and work as a music librarian, Erik founded the popular This Week In Libraries series of interviews, and Shanachie Tours, a worldwide tour searching for best practices in libraries.

Shanachie Tours, a worldwide tour searching for best practices in libraries.

Erik was one of the co-founders of the library innovator DOKLAB. More recently, he was a consultant for Public Libraries 2020 and a founding father of Public Libraries 2030. Erik is a facilitator and consultant for IFLA and a “Library Avenger”. He has worked with architects such as Zaha Hadid, Francine Houben, and Stewart & Hollenstein on the design and development of libraries in many countries.

Erik’s mission is keeping stories, sharing stories and making stories for the rest of his wonderful life.
His work has always been about libraries. Over the last 5 years he played a huge part in making his small town library one of the 25 most modern of the world.
One of his latest great projects was the Public Libraries 2020 European Tour was for the Reading & Writing Foundation which is a tour of 15 European countries gathering user stories, library stories and bringing the MEP’s to the library in their own constituencies.

In the spotlight with Erik Boekesteijn! We love that Erik has made the time to talk to us about his work so we asked him 10 quick coffee break questions.

What does your current role involve?

For the last six years I have had the incredible honour of putting my mind and heart to work for the National Library of the Netherlands as a Senior Advisor.

National Library of the Netherlands

What was your earliest ambition?

To become a pirate sailing the seven seas, and shortly after that to become a Rock Star! ( I have heard his amazing rendition of Brown-Eyed girl! LOL)

What has been the proudest moment in your career?

Probably to become Best Librarian of the Netherlands 2015 and have lunch with our King and Queen and later with the opening of StoryHouse with also lunch with Queen Elizabeth.

What drives you on?

The incredible stories of passionate clever, creative colleagues from all over the planet. These are troubled times, but the resilience of ‘my tribe’ is uplifting always. There is work to do!!

Have you got any hidden talents?

Hahaha I definitely don’t have a talent for hiding things. I still sing and make music and write songs and I write children’s books. Maybe being an Irishman at heart is one of them.

What’s the coolest (or most important) trend you see in libraries today?

I think there are many, but I think becoming multi-functional organizations in multi-functional buildings co-creating and programming with users trying to built a society of well being and kindness around the Sustainable Development Goals is for our future and the future of generations not born yet that is the most important one. We have to do it together keeping stories, sharing stories and making stories.

What three traits define you  

Hard to say about yourself! If I have to name three: Never giving up, love to create, be curious always.

What is the best thing about being a library leader? 

If I were to be seen as library leader by my respected colleagues and friends it would be to be blessed to be among them and hear their worries and exciting new ideas on creating fabulous services in amazing, safe places for people to see as their own

Has covid made you change anything about the way you used to run your service?

Hmm not really I think it both showed we need to work hard improving upon accessibility of our online services and truly value the use of our buildings and facilitating real contact between people. Even more now it is important to work with partners with expertise that help us connect and facilitate our users.

If money was no object, what would be your top priority?

Always a tricky question. I have in my working career always experienced that money is rarely the real problem. A good idea always finds a budget I used to say. I know libraries are suffering from budget cuts and the electricity crisis is hitting hard so it feels wrong to write this down like this, but I would probably use the money to build such an unbeatable advocacy story on the work of libraries that would almost make it impossible for funding governmental bodies to cut upon libraries. Libraries are our future and life without them is unimaginable.

Erik specialises in libraries, marketing, communication, networking, media literacy, presenting, moderating and consulting.

Thank you so much Erik! We hope you enjoyed In the spotlight with Erik Boekesteijn! Want to know more? contact us


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