Hans Lund is UNSILO’s newest staff member; he joined UNSILO at the start of December. Hans worked for twelve years at Multi-Support International A/S, and before that for seven years at the Aarhus location of the National Library of Denmark. It was at the National Library where he led the team that built the remarkable discovery tool called Summa. It was the pioneer in this space, leading within a few years to commercial products such as Summon and Primo Central, in use today at most academic libraries. Yet Summa, the first federated digital library catalogue, Hans explains, was built in just two months. So my first question was:
How did you manage to achieve such a major software product in such an amazing timescale? Was this a pioneering example of lean development?
Following lean principles was of course a necessary component in the equation, but most importantly was and is, simply to have the right combination of opportunity and talent – much like the environment we have at UNSILO now 😉
How did the library community respond to your vision? Were they immediately convinced?
To some degree. Being first movers into any area will always meet resistance. The vision itself was remarkably well received – the organizational funding less so, initially, but as you know, the vision now has been widely adapted.
How did you first get into computing?
I started at university studying biotechnology, and I got into computing quite by accident. Scientific computing became an ever growing component win my work, and getting to master that became mandatory, since when I’ve never looked back.
After leaving Aarhus Library, you moved to a Multi-Support near Herning, a commercial company who build tools for corporate document management, work-flow and processing. Wasn’t that a bit of a contrast to the library world?
To an extent:, typically the decision process is much leaner, and trust in the individual was, and is, much higher. At the time this was due to pure luck on my side, as the DNA of an organisation is only partly dictated by the organisation being public or commercial.
How did you find out about UNSILO?
UNSILO is centered around my own personal interest of making the writing itself the source of knowledge, so I’ve been following the company for some years – so when UNSILO approached me, despite being at a great place, joining was close to a no brainer.
What will your role be at UNSILO?
Head of platform is quite a wide-ranging title, but I’ll be helping the team here to transform research into shipping products. Following the great success that UNSILO had at the recent Frankfurt Book Fair, I’m keen to help the vision become reality and the tools that were being displayed in prototype form complete their initial testing and start to deliver real solutions.
You have worked both for commercial and for not-for-profit organisations – do you find the profit motive in commercial organisations easier to deal with?
Not really, to be honest, the two sectors have I think rather similar motivation factors behind building software solutions. When we built Summa at the University Library, we had to justify what we were building by providing clear statements of our goal, and then metrics to show evidence of how we had achieved that goal. Ultimately we did the project because we felt we were providing the community with better tools than they had before, and that is the justification as well for a commercial software company such as UNSILO. Of course it is necessary to make money, but that is not sufficient; you build tools because you believe they benefit the community as a whole, whether by improving quality, reducing costs, or, hopefully, both at the same time.
Finally, Hans, how good are you at curling? Are you aware that at the UNSILO Christmas party in two days you will be in a curling team competing with others for the UNSILO Christmas curling award?
It will be hard for me to get the 10K hours of practice at curling needed before being good, but at least I can bring competitiveness. How far that will take me we will have to see!