At IBTSC we have our very own library van – Pieter van Wingerden. Pieter has a broad range of interests and experience: at university he studied Classics and specialised in Ancient History and spent some time teaching while joining the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students (IFES) as a staff worker for four years. Following his time with IFES he and his wife worked in Central Asia for four years where they were involved in student ministry, teaching English, managing a library and retailing books. They have even spent a month living in Belfast while completing their CELTA course (Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Foreign Languages). Pieter joined IBTSC when it moved to Amsterdam in 2014.
Pieter’s passion is to provide the best possible resources for theological research students within the resources available to the library. Students have described his work on their behalf as ‘like having your own personal search ninja’ – high commendation indeed! As well as managing the library of around 40,000 books, Pieter works with Dorothy on producing the two academic journals at IBTSC and his attention to detail is impressive.
Pieter is married to Hanna-Ruth, who teaches English, and they live in Assen, which is 185 kilometres from Amsterdam – so Pieter spends a lot of time on the train. That has given him lots of time to consider his answers to my questions:
Why is the library so important to the work of IBTSC?
A library is more than a collection of books. It provides access to sources of information in any form. We strive for academic excellence and that would be impossible without having access to academically excellent resources. Having these resources close to hand in our physical and digital collections is invaluable to our mission. The better our research output, the more the church will benefit.
Now you are back in the Netherlands, what do you guys miss from your travelling days?
Winter! The winters here are quite boring: too warm, hardly any snow. We miss the days of -30 with frost patterns on the windows of the buses and thick layers of snow in the street.
Apart from the Bible, what is the best book you have ever read?
As a librarian, I’m not supposed to have an opinion. I leave that to our staff and students! For enjoyment, I mainly read history and fantasy (no theology, sorry guys). I quite like Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time cycle, but when it really comes to the best book ever, I cannot say otherwise than The Lord of the Rings. There’s a reason that Tolkien’s works enjoy the popularity they do. The depth of the creativity and inventiveness of his work is up to this day unsurpassed (except by J. K. Rowling – according to Hanna-Ruth!).
What do you enjoy about working here?
I enjoy the intercultural and international context of our institution. And for me as an anglophile (even though British-Isles-ophile would be a nicer word) it’s nice that the British part of the world population is well represented at IBTS Centre.