Paul Evan Peters died suddenly on November 18, 1996. His colleague and friend Bill Arms remembers.
Paul Evan Peters, Executive Director of the Coalition for Networked Information (CNI), died on November 18, 1996. His sudden death, at the age of forty eight, was a shock to us all.
Paul was a special person. His degrees in computer science, philosophy, information science, and sociology illustrate the breadth of his interests and openness to ideas. By 1990, when CNI began, he had already had a distinguished career at the University of Pittsburgh, Columbia Universities Libraries, and the New York Public Library. However, it was as the founding director of CNI that we will particularly remember him.
The first meeting of CNI in Washington was a notable event. Long before the World Wide Web made the Internet fashionable, leaders of research libraries and university computing united to face the opportunities and challenges of networked information. Few people even knew the issues. We turned to Paul to lead. His agenda was simple, help people to work together. Librarians, publishers and computing directors can easily become rivals. We come to CNI to work together, and the reason that we come to CNI is that Paul made us all welcome.
Paul's impact on people went far beyond a simple listing of his accomplishments. Testimonials from around the world speak of the effect that he had on individuals wherever he went. He had a happy ability to discover people's strengths. His warm smile and open manner brought life to the most tedious of meetings. Despite being immensely busy, he was always outgoing and rarely appeared rushed.
Paul was not a great orator, but he was a popular speaker, with his own private style. Every few months he prepared a new talk which he would read from his laptop computer. Usually he began with observations from science fiction or from a modern philosopher. He would praise creative work from others rather than emphasize his own achievements. He could find nuggets in the most unlikely places.
If we wish to remember Paul, we will follow the lessons that he lived, that information is for everybody, and by working together we can achieve great things. Paul was a fine colleague and a friend to us all. He will be missed.
William Y. Arms