Bihanne Wassink, paper conservator at the National Archive of the Netherlands, died unexpectedly on April 21, 2008, at age fifty. Wassink was a valuable contributor to the GCI-sponsored course Teamwork for Integrated Emergency Management, held in Southeast Europe. She served as an instructor during the two-week workshop in Macedonia and as a mentor during the ongoing distance-mentoring phase. Wassink's expertise in disaster preparedness, salvage, and recovery was invaluable. Participants, fellow instructors, and partners came to know her as a very dedicated professional. Sharing her knowledge and experience was a natural expression of Wassink's warm nature and her devotion to her profession.
Trained in paper and book conservation, Wassink had worked at the National Archive of the Netherlands since 1981. Beginning in 1998, she served as a conservation advisor for the International Conservation Centre of the National Archive. In 2005 she was made the disaster management advisor for the National Archive collection. She also managed The Hague Pilot ("Haagse Preventie Netwerk/Haagse Pilot"), a regional initiative aimed at disaster preparedness collaboration among twenty museums, libraries, and archives in The Hague.
Wassink also contributed to the field by carrying out research with the fire department in The Hague on fire progression in archives, as well as on the ways packaging and storage techniques can help mitigate damage in the event of fire. In a relatively short time, she acquired a formidable understanding of disaster preparedness for collections of cultural heritage and experience in hands-on mass salvage operations, which made her an authority in the field. She traveled extensively to share her knowledge around the world.
Wassink was one of the authors of Preservation of Archives in Tropical Climates, for which she wrote the section on disaster preparedness.
The GCI offers condolences to Wassink's family and friends and to her colleagues at the National Archive. She will be greatly missed.