Lee Dirks on Transforming Scholarly Communication
Lee Dirks on Transforming Scholarly Communication (Photo credit: Berkman Center for Internet & Society)

We hear of horrible news on a daily basis, but we don’t often think much of the impact of that horrible news on the people most closely related to the news. Of course, this occasionally gets turned on its head when we find out some shocking news about someone that we do know or do care about.  The closer the relationship is, the more devastating the news, which happens to be the case today.

The scholarly communications community received some shocking news yesterday. Sadly, Lee Dirks and his wife Judy died Tuesday during a car accident in Peru earlier this week.

Lee was an enthusiastic, energetic, and fun-loving member of our community. He was also extremely accomplished having spent many years engaging the scholarly community in Microsoft’s work, research as well as representing our community’s interests within the halls of Microsoft.

After receiving his MLS from UNC Chapel Hill, Lee worked at Columbia and OCLC before moving to the corporate library at Microsoft in the mid-1990s. Lee’s background in libraries and archives served him well at Microsoft, where he eventually brought his skills to bear within Tony Hey’s team at Microsoft Research, where Lee was recently named Director of Portfolio Strategy. Lee was a leader within Microsoft on issues such as preservation, access to science, and the future of information distribution.

Outside of work, Lee loved his family, especially his kids. We spoke often of the challenges of raising kids when spending as much time out of the office and with the community and how we strategized mixing the two. He was fun-loving and always searching for a way to have a good time, be that getting away to the Final Four, a poker game, or an evening at a specialty brew pub.

Lee and Judy’s two children weren’t on this trip and survive their parents. As a community, we should all hold them and the rest of their family in our prayers.

Lee will also be missed terribly by his colleagues at Microsoft, his friends, and his many colleagues in the scholarly publishing world. Lee contributed a lot of his life to our community and we are all better off for his contributions.

We will all miss you, your ideas, and your big smile, Lee!

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Todd A Carpenter

Todd A Carpenter

Todd Carpenter is Executive Director of the National Information Standards Organization (NISO). He additionally serves in a number of leadership roles of a variety of organizations, including as Chair of the ISO Technical Subcommittee on Identification & Description (ISO TC46/SC9), founding partner of the Coalition for Seamless Access, Past President of FORCE11, Treasurer of the Book Industry Study Group (BISG), and a Director of the Foundation of the Baltimore County Public Library. He also previously served as Treasurer of SSP.


7 Thoughts on "Remembering Lee Dirks"

Todd – Thanks for sharing this tragic news with us – I am stunned! Having seen him at different meetings throughout the Spring and at SSP, it’s hard to believe that someone so vital and full of life is gone. I appreciated working with Lee. He was very accessible and committed to our industry. We will miss him – along with all those who knew him. Judy

Very sad news – Lee was such a lovely and vibrant person, very smart and knowledgeable and a real pleasure to work with. He will be greatly missed…

I worked with Lee a couple of years ago on a digital libraries initiative. He was an extremely nice bloke who I thoroughly enjoyed working with. He made the whole experience enjoyable and easy. My sincere condolences to his family and close friends.

Words cannot express my feeling of loss for his family. He will be greatly missed. We should all propose a toast to Lee at the next SSP event.

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