Peter Lyman – goodbye to a colleague

The news that Peter Lyman died on July 2 is now appearing in the mainstream press. I’ve linked here to the Wikipedia page about him because I think he would have appreciated that as much as the articles in the San Francisco Chronicle and the UC Berkeley newspaper.

In the next while there will be many reminiscences and memorials from many perspectives given all the successful roles he filled in his lifetime. My fondest recollections are from his time on the board of the Research Libraries Group from 1993-1996. It was a distinguished group who all learned much from one another. At the time Peter was one of the few leaders in our world talking about the ways in which research and scholarship were being transformed by the web. He felt it as a professor, as a librarian and as teacher.

“Something very striking is that, as the technology develops for end users to search databases and get delivery directly to their desks, the library ceases to be the obvious mediator between scholars and collections. Our mediation is much more subtle and consists of setting up cooperative institutions, designing technologies, and negotiating contracts.” RLG News, Winter 1996

He urged RLG to respond. We tried and, as a consequence, did what turned out to be some interesting experiments. Peter was encouraging and supportive throughout.

Given that he lived and worked just across the Bay, we stayed in touch. Not as much as I would have liked even though Peter always offered to host lunch if I’d come over. I always said I would if he’d get me a parking permit. Usually his response was that we might as well decide to meet at an airline club in O’Hare. It would take less time for us both.

He is missed.

Jim coordinates the OCLC Research office in San Mateo, CA, focuses on relationships with research libraries and work that renovates the library value proposition in the current information environment.

2 Comments on “Peter Lyman – goodbye to a colleague”

  1. Peter was a tremendous inspiration for me as I was starting NINCH. In his articles and talks he was able to put his finger on the changes as they were coming and to very smartly surmise what some consequences might be. I loved how, as a speaker at some of the most formal events, he was clearly always in an interrogative mode: “so what do you think?”

    I was thrilled to read about his engagement with the “Digital Youth” Project. For iQuote, a book I’m publishing this Fall, I captured this one aperception:

    IM is a constant silent communiqué among kids about their feelings about the world, a bit like a Greek chorus always commenting in the background while kids are living in the world.

    Through Peter’s work I discovered his collaborator Danah Boyd, whose work I’m now following avidly. She gave a terrific remembrance on her own blog, apophenia I’d urge you to read:

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