6 February 1955 – 15 November 2015
Last Sunday afternoon we were devastated to learn that our colleague Jeroen ten Haaf had suddenly died that morning as a result of acute cardiac failure. We are left in total confusion.
Jeroen’s death means that we have lost one of the key individuals within the University Library: a committed colleague, friendly and relaxed, a social animal who showed what he stood for in particular when interacting with his colleagues within and outside the University Library and Maastricht University (UM). He had the capacity to unite people. He found a special place in the heart of every person who met him, and created thousands of special places in his own heart for all the people he got to know and stayed in contact with.
His enthusiasm and especially his positive attitude always enabled him to identify common ground between the participants in a discussion, which explains why he was so good at motivating people, inspiring them and bringing them together. More than anyone else he was able to use his irresistible humour to put the assumed urgency of our problems into perspective and, by adopting a fresh approach, help us achieve a good compromise or a joint viewpoint. In doing so, he never got personal in his criticism.
Another characteristic so typical of Jeroen was his ability to enjoy the good things of life to the full. Whenever possible he went for a bite and a drink after work, and he was never short of compliments for the people around him.
Jeroen studied (neuro)biology in Utrecht, where he earned his PhD at the Rudolf Magnus Institute in 1990. Before obtaining his doctorate, in 1986, at the request of Jelle Jolles he switched to the department of Neuropsychology & Psychobiology of what was then known as the Rijksuniversiteit Limburg (UM’s predecessor). In 1993 he accepted a position at the Maastricht University Library as a scientific information specialist. Here he had every opportunity to combine his interest in teaching with his ability to perform as an accessible and service-oriented professional. As a lecturer he taught his students with a great deal of passion. He introduced the Management of Bibliographic Information support cycle and became known both within and outside the University Library as Mr EndNote.
Jeroen was always looking for change and was at his best when things needed to be improvised. In his capacity as Faculty Librarian for Health Sciences he also had ample opportunity to develop initiatives himself. For example, he served as project leader for initiatives such as the IT Garden in the Learning and Resource Centre and the LINK Reading and Internet Café. He also launched the electronic e-reader for UM. Although he could be strong-willed, cooperation always remained his driving force. Time and again his extensive network within UM has proved to be of immense value to the library – a network that he was happy to expand beyond the university, at his hockey club (Hockeer) and as a guitar player in several bands, all for the benefit of the University Library. For him there was no clear dividing line between free time and work.
Jeroen’s passion and enthusiasm in the field of teaching, educational reform and new educational technology made him the ideal EleUM coordinator and programme leader for Educational Support, a position he held from 2006. In fact he represented EleUM like nobody else within UM but also elsewhere, during Education Days, in a SURF context and in the international Blackboard user group. This is how Mr EndNote became Mr EleUM.
When his children left home, Jeroen and his wife had more time to spend on their hobbies, which included skiing and golf. In his hobbies too, Jeroen showed 100 per cent commitment. We remember him as a person who enjoyed many things, like good food, good wine and, above all, telling stories – in which music (Keith Richards, JJ Cale) and sport (Ajax!) were recurring themes. He seldom felt depressed and if he did, it was never for long. This is why he was so successful in coping with setbacks, even when he was diagnosed with cancer last year. He had an operation which seemed to have given him a new lease of life – until last weekend.
Jeroen, we will dearly miss your positive, substantive and social contribution. We hope you are well, wherever you are now.
We wish Helma, their children Sven, Linn and Mascha as well as all friends and relatives the strength to cope with this great loss.
In memory of Jeroen a space has been made available in both library locations (GL17 and Uns50) where colleagues can express their condolences.
We will say goodbye to Jeroen at Walpot, Pisartlaan 8 in Eijsden, on Friday 20 November, from 17.30 to 18.30. Details about the funeral are not yet known, but will be available from Thursday 19 November at the University Library Secretariat, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also on behalf of all University Library colleagues,