On July 3, 2001, Bertrand Ibrahim, the secretary and vice-chair of the VL council died, in Beirut, where he was attending a conference. He was just 46 years old.
Bertrand was one of the strongest forces behind the Virtual Library, and will be sorely missed both personally and professionally. He was one of the very earliest members of the Virtual Library, starting his VL sections on Visual Languages and Programming and Tck/Tk back in 1994, when the web was just starting to develop.
He emerged as one of VLs most devoted proponents and architects in 1997, when Arthur Secret's departure left the project without a structure or management. Bertrand's guiding principle was that the members who build the VL should control its operations, and that the VL should be answerable to each member. To that end he volunteered for the ad-hoc committee to create a new VL structure and was unanimously elected its chair. His vision and work there to create the VL constitution and bylaws were quite phenomenal. It was inspiring to see his dedication to creating a truly democratic VL structure, and to listen to every point of view and strive for consensus, no matter what it took. In over 300 emails to the committee, he showed again and again how differences could be bridged, better solutions made and consensus could be reached. His dedication to the vision of the VL, to getting it right, and to listening and trying to accommodate all points of view were truly memorable. The result was the constitution and bylaws that firmly estabilshed the VL as a democratic, member-run visionary organisation.
After the acceptance of the bylaws, Bertrand was elected member, secretary and vice-chair of the VL council, where he continued to strive for excellence and stability, and has been one of the main contributors on almost every issue that the council has addressed, from finishing our bylaws to registering the VL as a real-world entity, to co-ordinating the computing-area VL sections and much more.
Bertrand worked as a professor of Computer Science at the University of Geneva. You can see more on his extensive research and other activities on his personal home page (previously at http://cui.unige.ch/eao/www/Bertrand.html) now archived at the Virtual Library, and shortly to be republished here.It was a great pleasure to work with Bertrand, and to learn from his respect for all and all views. I will sorely miss him, and his presence will be very much missed on the council and in the whole of the Virtual Library. He left this world far too young, but not before he made a difference, not least in the VL, where he promoted and helped realize the vision of expert volunteers working to build a catalog of knowledge for the common good of all.
VL Council Chair
In 2005, Linda Franklin (Bertrand's widow) generously organised a donation of funds to the WWW Virtual Library. The donors were “ Linda Franklin, widow, the Goldsmith family, friends and colleagues”". (Goldsmith is Bertrand's mother-in-law's family name.) Bertrand had himself made a very generous donation to the VL at the time it was constituted into a formal association.
The WWW VL is extrememy grateful for this donation in memory of someone who donated so much of his time, energy and wisdom to the welfare and development of the Virtual Library project.