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‘I really love my church community’

Thomas Baldwin meets the former Labour MEP Catherine Stihler and learns about her new role as CEO of the Open Knowledge Foundation and her faith commitment.

CATHERINE Stihler suggests we meet in the café at Dunfermline’s new museum and gallery, a smart extension of the town’s library.

The library was originally funded by Andrew Carnegie - the ultimate ‘local boy done good’ - and the café overlooks the grounds of Dunfermline Abbey, birth and burial place of generations of Scottish royalty. Both of the ancient capital’s claims to fame are relevant to Catherine’s interests.

“Carnegie saw why libraries and open knowledge are important”, she says. “Above the door at every Carnegie library are the words ‘let there be light’ – not just the light of knowledge, but the light of public places and public spaces. That’s why churches being public is so important, that’s why here in this library we have to make this space not just about knowledge but also making them centres for understanding… so we can all become far more data-literate.”

The former MEP talks ten-to-the-dozen, very passionate about her new job, the causes she works for and the people who inspire her, with a politician’s habit of repeating phrases for emphasis (‘fair, free and open’ appears in my transcript seven times).

The interest in open knowledge and open data reflects her new role as Chief Executive Officer at the Open Knowledge Foundation, an international non-profit that campaigns for open data and information. But it is also consistent with longer-term interests in working internationally, in issues around copyright and creativity, and generally in helping create a better and fairer world.

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About Life and Work

IN THIS ISSUE GOD AND TAXES The morality of taxation 'I REALLY LOVE MY CHURCH COMMUNITY' Former MEP Catherine Stihler talks about faith CELEBRATING THE GUILD Annual Gathering and Guild Week And much more....