Ken Varnum is Senior Program Manager at the University of Michigan Library. Working within Library Information Technology’s Design & Discovery unit, I am responsible for technology and project management for the library’s discovery interfaces (Library Search, the library’s integrated search interface), link resolver (“MGet It“) and other delivery interfaces, and the library’s evolving and emerging analytics infrastructure.

From 2007-2015, I was manager of the Web Systems department at the University of Michigan Library, where I oversaw the library web site and development of new features and functionality.

Ken Varnum

Courtesy of Michigan Photography – Austin Thomason

I received my 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 two decades of working with public-facing technology in academic, corporate, and special libraries, I have gained a deep appreciation and understanding of the need to tailor systems and interfaces to the local user base. (See my full CV for details.)

My areas of interest include the web-scale discovery tools, technology trends, and user-generated content. ALA Editions is publishing two books in Winter 2019: The New Top Technologies Every Librarian Needs to Know, a new edition of the 2014 work, and Beyond Reality: Alternate, Virtual, and Mixed Reality in the Library. My previous book, Exploring Discovery: The Front Door to Your Library’s Licensed and Digitized Content, a collection of 19 case studies about library discovery systems, was published in April 2016.

I wrote Drupal in Libraries (2012), and edited The Top Technologies Every Librarian Needs to Know (2014) and Lorcan Dempsey’s The Network Reshapes the Library (2014), in addition to numerous articles and chapters. I blog very sporadically at and am on Twitter as @varnum.

Professional Involvement

Past involvement includes the RLG Social Metadata Working Group and the LITA Forum Planning Committee.


I speak regularly at conferences (upcoming events are noted on the right; see the presentations page for a complete list of past talks and links to presentations). In January 2017, I moderated the LITA Top Tech Trends panel at ALA Midwinter.

I’m also occasionally interviewed for print publications. For details, see “In the Media.”