Top Technologies Every Librarian Needs to Know


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Where to Buy?

This book explores library technologies just emerging from the background into reality. Each technology will be significant to libraries in the near term (authors were asked to think about a 3-5 year horizon as they made their predictions). This book is a guide to library administrators and technologists as they plan future investigations and expenditures. I wrote an abbreviated summary of the book's themes in a blog post for CILIP, "4 technology trends every librarian need to know." The Top Technologies Every Librarian Needs to Know is available from Amazon in print and Kindle versions, as well as from the ALA Store.

Table of Contents

  1. “Impetus to Innovate: Convergence and Library Trends,” by A.J. Million and Heather Lea Moulaison
  2. “Hands-Free Augmented Reality: Impacting the Library Future,” by Brigitte M. Bell and Terry Cottrell
  3. “Libraries and Archives Augmenting the World,” by William Denton
  4. “The Future of Cloud-Based Library Systems,” by Steven Bowers and Elliot Jonathan Polak
  5. “Library Discovery: From Ponds to Streams,” by Ken Varnum
  6. “Exit As Strategy: Web Services as the New Websites for Many Libraries,” by Anson Parker, VP Nagraj, and David Moody
  7. “Reading and Non-Reading: Text Mining in Critical Practice,” by Devin Higgins
  8. “Bigger, Better, Together: Building the Digital Library of the Future,” by Jeremy York
  9. “The Case for Open Hardware in Libraries,” by Jason Griffey

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Where to Buy?


The most recently published reviews are on top. (Updated 10 August 2016.)

  • "[T]he book has an important place within the continuing education and project management life cycles of library professionals of all kinds." Joseph Shapell, Education for Information, Vol. 32, No. 3, pp. 305-306. 
  • "Overall, this book will appeal to library managers and staff, LIS students and all in between. The topics are broad enough that all within the GLAM sector will be able to connect with the content." Kim Salamonson, The Electronic Library, Vol. 34 Iss: 1, pp.173 - 174.
  • "This book is tiny, but it packs a punch. In just 144 pages it neatly sums up a range of futures which every librarian should familiarise themselves with in this time of chal- lenge and change. A must-read for both practising librarians and students in the field." Kay Oddone, Australian Academic & Research Libraries, Vol. 46, No. 4, pp. 312-3.
  • "In an approachable and reader-friendly slim volume, we are introduced to ways in which we can make our library services bigger and better for the future." Louise Ellis-Barrett, Library and Information Research, Vol. 39, No. 120, p. 67.
  • "This title is recommended for the collection development librarian who wants the essential information in short bits. The authors make solid cases as to why specific technologies are beneficial and how they may be used in libraries effectively." -- Lizzy Walker, Collection Management, Vol. 40, no. 3, pp. 186-188.
  • "[T]his book will help a librarian make the case for putting these technologies in place and using them to the benefit of the library and its patrons." -- Elisabeth R. Rowan, Journal of Hospital Librarianship, Vol. 15, no. 3, pp. 346-347.
  • "[L]ibrarians looking to better understand current trends and future directions will find this an excellent starting point. The book is highly recommended for all libraries." -- Amanda Izenstark, Reference Reviews, Vol. 29, no. 2, pp. 7-8.
  • "[The book] will help librarians think strategically about deploying technology in their communities. We should already know our users; after reading this, we will have new ideas about technology that we can use now and in the near future." -- Gwen M. Gregory, Information Today, May 2015, Vol. 32, no. 4, p. 20.
  • "This book would be a useful purchase for library staff, especially managers, who would like to be prepared for the future library trends to help them enhance the library experience and prepare for the brave new world of e-technologies that will impact on libraries in the near future." -- Kay Neville, Library Review, Vol. 64, no. 3, pp. 269-270.
  • "This book introduces a panoply of emergent technologies in libraries by providing a fascinating snapshot of where we are now and of where we might be in three to five years." -- Margaret Beecher Maurer, Technical Services Quarterly, Vol. 32, no. 2, pp. 241-243.
  • "...provides a snapshot of where we are now and a good look at where we are heading. Read it, but do not wait too long...." -- Michael Heyd, Journal of Electronic Resources in Medical Libraries, Vol. 12, no. 1, pp. 90-92.
  • "For anyone writing strategies or interested in upcoming library technology or even just curious and wanting to learn, [this book] is a must read." -- Michelle McLean, Australian Library Journal, Vol. 64, no. 1, March 2015. p. 74.
  • "This brief and practical work accomplishes its goal of providing an accessible overview of the technological landscape facing the profession." -- Fred Rowland, portal: Libraries and the Academy, Vol. 15, no. 1, January 2015, p. 203.
  • "Anyone in libraries who wishes to have an impact on that future would be advised to seek out books like this one." -- Mike Waugh, Catholic Library World, Vol. 85, no. 2, December 2014, pp. 135-6.
  • "This is a compact and readable book, with the chapters more or less following a predictable structure of explaining the technology in an intelligent yet simple way, how its features are currently applied, where in the future it could go, what is needed to make this happen, and the benefits of uptake for various libraries and user needs." -- Leah Pengelly, New Zealand Library & Information Management Journal, Vol. 55, no 1, December 2014, p. 30.
  • "...Each chapter provides an overview of technologies that libraries may want to begin thinking about for future implementation." -- Journal of Electronic Resources Librarianship, Vol. 26, Iss. 4, 2014, pp. 309-400.
  • "This is a good book to read to get a feel for some of the new technologies which may impact your library." -- Online Searcher, November/December 2014, Vol. 38, Issue 6, pp. 78-9.

Second Edition -- Call for Chapter Proposals


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Where to Buy?

You are invited to submit a chapter proposal for the second edition of the successful and positively-reviewed 2014 book published by ALA, The Top Technologies Every Librarian Needs to Know. Chapter proposals are due July 15, 2017 July 21, 2017, and may be submitted via the chapter proposal form.

Theme of the Book

What current technologies are on the cusp of moving from "gee whiz" to real-life application in libraries? This book will explore the information landscape as it might be in 3-5 years. It will describe the emerging technologies of today that are likely to be at the core of "standard" library offerings in the not-distant future. It will introduce project managers and project doers not just to new technologies, but also provide an understanding of the broader trends that are driving them.

Chapter-length essays are particularly sought on the following topics:

  • Augmented reality
  • Content Management
  • Digital Preservation
  • Digital repositories
  • Effect of cloud-based library management systems
  • Ereaders & Ebooks
  • Internet of Things
  • Library custom-built/open source tools at scale
  • Library integrations of multiple services/tools
  • Mobile Technologies (beyond responsive design)
  • Open source LMS developments
  • Patron privacy technology (focus on technology, not policies)
  • Shared print repositories
  • Tools for analytics (tools beyond Google Analytics); in-depth applications
  • User-centered design
  • Virtual reality


Chapters will be in the 4000-4500 word range and must address the following points:

  1. Define the technology (in general, and in the context of the chapter)
  2. Why does the technology matter in general, and to libraries in particular?
  3. What are early adopters doing?
  4. What does the future trend look like?
  5. Having embraced this technology, what would the library of 2022 look like?

Proposals should be submitted to Ken Varnum, the book's editor, at by July 15, 2017. Please include the following things in your proposal.

  1. Your name, title, phone, and email address
  2. A few sentences describing your experience with the technology being proposed
  3. A writing sample consisting of a 300-500 word draft definition of the technology and what it means in general and to libraries (points 1 and 2 in the outline above)
  4. An outline of the remainder of the chapter
  5. A link to a writing sample, preferably something published in an edited or peer-reviewed publication


July 21, 2017: Chapter proposals due via Call for Chapters Form
August 15, 2017: Authors notified of acceptance
December 15, 2017: Chapter drafts due
January 31, 2018: Editor's comments provided to authors
February 28, 2018: Revised drafts due to editor

About the Editor

Ken Varnum is the Senior Program Manager for Discovery, Delivery, and Library Analytics at the University of Michigan Library. Ken's research and professional interests include discovery systems, library analytics, and technology in the library setting. An experienced editor, author, and presenter, he wrote "Drupal in Libraries" (2012) and edited "The Top Technologies Every Librarian Needs to Know" (2014) and "The Network Reshapes the Library: Lorcan Dempsey on Libraries, Services and Networks" (2014). His most recent book, "Exploring Discovery: The Front Door to Your Library’s Licensed and Digitized Content" was published in 2016. For a full list of articles, presentations, and books, please see Ken can be reached by email ( or Twitter (@varnum).