Ken Varnum is the Web Systems Manager at the University of Michigan Library, where he manages the library web site and development of new features and functionality. He received his Bachelor of Arts from Grinnell College and two masters degrees from the University of Michigan (one from the School of Information and the second from the Center for Russian and East European Studies). 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.

Ken Varnum
Courtesy of Michigan Photography – Austin Thomason

A frequent speaker and author, Ken’s areas of interest include the Drupal content management system, web-scale discovery tools, and user-generated content. In addition to numerous articles and chapters, he wrote Drupal in Libraries (2012), compiled the LITA Guide The Top Technologies Every Librarian Needs to Know (May 2014), and edited Lorcan Dempsey’s The Network Reshapes the Library (July 2014). He blogs sporadically at and can be found on Twitter at @varnum.

Professional Involvement

Recent professional activities include participation in the NISO Open Discovery Initiative, focused on creating transparency in communicating what information is available in web-scale discovery systems. The group released a Recommended Practice in June 2014. I chaired the 2014 LITA Forum Planning Committee, for the LITA Forum held in Albuquerque, NM, November 5-8, 2014. Past involvement has include the RLG Social Metadata Working Group.


I speak regularly at conferences (upcoming events are noted on the right; see the presentations page for a complete list of past talks).