Lily Knibbeler is set to step down as Director General of the KB as of 1 July 2024. She announced this news today.

Knibbeler started working at the KB in 2008, and has been Director General since July 2015. The National Library underwent far-reaching changes under her management. Alongside its traditional tasks relating to academia and heritage, the KB also obtained a directive role within the public library domain, and became responsible for the digital public library. The KB developed into an innovative organisation employing over 500 staff. The KB’s digital services, such as the online library, Delpher and DBNL, reach around one in every three of the Dutch population every year.

Network cooperation as a priority

Photo: KB Beeldstudio / Jacqueline van der Kort

At the core of Knibbeler’s many achievements lies her focus on thinking and working in networks. She was, for instance, one of the founders of the Dutch Digital Heritage Network and helped forge cooperation with public libraries in committing to three societal tasks: a literate society, participation in the information society and lifelong learning. Knibbeler also secured the future accommodation of the National Library and its collections. This year, building work will begin on a new and innovative, sustainable book repository, and a new public building will be developed on the current site after 2028.

Knibbeler also played a meaningful role in the international library cooperation. Chairing the Conference of Directors of National Libraries (CDNL), she navigated discussions on pivotal topics like the Sustainable Development Goals, the role of the next generation in positioning national libraries and working in networks of value. And, maybe most importantly, she relentlessly stressed the importance of forming a community instead of attending a conference, even using the merits of ‘storytelling’. Within the Conference of European National Librarians (CENL) she was also active, especially with regard to AI and diversity and inclusion. Her contribution to organizing the IFLA conference in Rotterdam in 2023, as well as her frequent travels to other national libraries to exchange ideas and experiences, further exemplify her commitment to advancing the global library community.

International praise

The Director General of the National Library of Australia, Marie-Louise Ayres, commented on what marked Knibbeler’s work as chair of the CDNL: “Lily made a major contribution to bringing the Directors together as both a professional and a personal community. She managed to move the CDNL passed a formal meeting once a year, and helped form a group that got to know each other beyond our formal roles. Together, we discussed matters around our lives as leaders – especially in difficult times – and we reached out to each other for peer support. Lily’s professionalism, enthusiasm and warmth all contributed to this shift in tone and direction.”


The Board of Governors will start the procedure for appointing Knibbeler’s successor shortly. Knibbeler will remain in her job until 30 June 2024, gradually handing over her tasks to other members of the KB's Board of Directors. Martijn Kleppe, member of the Board of Directors, has been deputy Director General since January 2024 and will replace her in her absence.