The Network Reshapes the Library: Lorcan Dempsey on Libraries, Services and Networks

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  • Description
  • Table of Contents
  • About the Authors
  • Reviews

Since he began posting in 2003, Dempsey has used his blog to explore nearly every important facet of library technology, from the emergence of Web 2.0 as a concept to open source ILS tools and the push to web-scale library management systems. More than just a commentary on the issue of the moment, the more than 1,800 posts have offered thousands of readers valuable perspective and insight as well as a visionary approach to libraries' future. In a compendium that library planners, administrators, and technology staff will find endlessly stimulating, Varnum offers an expertly curated selection of entries from Dempsey's blog. Showing where libraries have been in the last decade and also where they're heading now, this book covers such keystone topics as

  • Networked resources
  • Network organization
  • The research process and libraries' evolving role, featuring the seminal post "In the Flow"
  • Resource discovery
  • Library systems and tools such as search indices and OpenURL link resolvers
  • Data and metadata
  • Publishing and communication, including blogs, social media, and scholarly communication
  • Libraries, archives, museums, and galleries as "memory institutions"

The book concludes with a selection of favorites hand-picked by Dempsey himself. As one university librarian put it, Dempsey's "dual ability to explore an issue and to reveal the higher-order trends is spot-on for understanding our volatile environment." That unique and thoughtful analysis is on full display in this book.


Preface, by Lorcan Dempsey
Editor's Introduction, by Ken Varnum
  1. Networked Resources
  2. Network Organization
  3. In the Flow
  4. Resource Discovery
  5. Library Systems
  6. Data and Metadata
  7. Publishing and Communication
  8. Libraries
  9. Lorcan's Picks

Lorcan Dempsey

Lorcan Dempsey oversees the research division and participates in planning at OCLC. He has worked for library and educational organizations in Ireland, England, and the US. He has written and spoken extensively on policy, research, and service development, and in the areas of networked information and digital libraries. He can be followed on the web at Lorcan Dempsey's weblog and on twitter. Before moving to OCLC Lorcan worked for JISC in the UK, overseeing national information programs and services, and before that was Director of UKOLN, a national UK research and policy unit at the University of Bath. Before moving to the UK he worked in public libraries in Dublin, Ireland.

Kenneth J. Varnum

Kenneth J. Varnum is senior program manager for discovery, delivery, and learning analytics at the University of Michigan Library. In this role, he is responsible for the library’s discovery interfaces (the “MLibrary” single search tool, ArticlesPlus, Search Tools, etc.), link resolution and content delivery interfaces, and the library’s evolving and emerging learning analytics infrastructure. Over his two decades working with public-facing technology in academic, corporate, and special libraries, he has gained a deep appreciation and understanding of the need to tailor systems and interfaces to the local user base. In addition to numerous articles and chapters, he wrote Drupal in Libraries (2012), and edited The Top Technologies Every Librarian Needs to Know: A LITA Guide (2014) and Lorcan Dempsey's The Network Reshapes the Library (2014), among other books. He blogs at and can be found on Twitter at @varnum.

"Dempsey thinks web-scale. His breadth of interests and his ability to outline appropriate organizational responses in the 'Amazoogle' age make this a compelling read ... Recommended? Yes, for all of us, because the network has reshaped the library."
— Australian Library Journal

"Future students of library history are not the only audience for this book. Dempsey's posts can serve as a starting place for new professionals who wish to understand how the library environment has shifted over the past decade. The content will suit students who need to develop a better understanding of how otherwise theoretical concepts have been operationalized in the library setting … it is likely that practicing librarians, library students, and scholars of early 21st century technology will all find value in this book."
— Technical Services Quarterly

"Library technologists, administrators, and visionaries will find plenty of ideas in every few pages upon which to ruminate in between readings."
— Catholic Library World

"Dempsey's uniquely extrapolative approach to discussing topical issues means that even out-of-date posts have an enduring relevance. Similarly, his ability to fix themes into memorable and intuitive terminology makes this compendium thought-provoking even when the technology under discussion has obsolesced. This collection takes a step towards structuring how the library world understands Dempsey's legacy of influence and his numerous contributions to the field."
— Technicalities

"A new generation of librarians and library professionals now have the opportunity to read these important writings in a new context: hindsight … Lorcan Dempsey has provided both a record and many noteworthy ideas to a community that continues to applaud his insights. "
— Serials Review