Nol Verhagen, former director of the libraries of the University of Amsterdam (UvA) and Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences/Hogeschool van Amsterdam (AUAS/HvA), has been named an Officer in the Order of Orange-Nassau. The mayor of Bussum, Henk Heijman, conferred the Royal Honours during the opening of the academic year at the UvA.
Verhagen has been accorded this distinction in recognition of his special contributions to the UvA and, more broadly, to society as a whole. In the Netherlands and internationally he has played an exceptionally valuable role in creating open and affordable access to scientific information, as well as making great strides in his efforts for the protection of academic and cultural heritage.
Verhagen was appointed as the librarian/director of the UvA’s University Library (UB) in 1997. In the years since then the library has undergone many transformations, including its integration with the library of the AUAS/HvA. Verhagen stood at the head of these transformations and guided them to a successful conclusion. Today, thanks to his efforts, the library is a single, unified organisation that provides education and research support to both the UvA and the AUAS/HvA and offers an inspiring learning environment.
From the moment of his appointment until his retirement in August of this year, Verhagen dedicated himself to optimising the use of information and communication technology resources both within the library itself and in the dissemination of scientific information. The library was a pioneer in the introduction of innovative search systems and in opening up digital access to the products of scientific education and research. Further, it is thanks to Verhagen that the library became a national leader in providing digital access to electronic journals, data files, theses and heritage materials.
Verhagen played a pivotal role in negotiations between the universities and academic publishers regarding licensed access to digital information and in setting up such licences. He was also a driving force behind the UKB – the association of Dutch university libraries and the Dutch Royal Library – and the International Coalition of Library Consortia, where his involvement also made significant contributions to copyright law. Both in this country and abroad, Verhagen advocated the ‘right’ to scientific information and the expansion of access to such information, and was an active voice in national discussions about Open Access.
Last but certainly not least, Verhagen succeeded in developing the library into a heritage institution boasting unique collections of academic and cultural heritage, as epitomised by its Special Collections and the Allard Pierson Museum. As a staunch defender of the vital importance of heritage collections for university education and research, he saved the heritage collections of the national Theatre Institute (Theater Instituut Nederland) and Music Centre (Muziek Centrum Nederland) by arranging for their transfer to the library. His involvement has ensured that these important collections continue to be accessible both for educational and research purposes and for the wider public .