Lorcan Dempsey

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Lorcan Dempsey, Baltimore, 2017

Lorcan Dempsey is a vice president and is Chief Strategist of OCLC.

He is a native of Dublin, Ireland, where he worked for some years in public libraries. He writes and talks about libraries and networked information. In recent years, Dempsey has been a regular panellist at the LITA Top Tech Trends at the American Library Association annual conference. He is interested in the impact of changing patterns of research and learning on libraries, in libraries as public institutions, and in the architecture of digital information environments.[1]


Dempsey was appointed director[2] of UKOLN, a research and policy unit at the University of Bath, in 1994. He served on the editorial board of The Public-Access Computer Systems Review from 1992 to 2000.

During most of his time at UKOLN, he also served as a director of Ariadne magazine. He was a co-founder of the Resource Discovery Network, which later became known as Intute.

In May 2000, Dempsey moved to work for the Jisc; part of his assignment involved being Programme Director of the DNER.[3] In 2001 he joined the Online Computer Library Center (OCLC) as Vice-President of Research.[4] He was named OCLC Chief Strategist in March 2004.

Dempsey is currently an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth.


Dempsey maintains a blog[5] aimed at the wider library and digital information sectors, and tweets[6] on similar issues.

A 2007 blog post was responsible for the coining of the term amplified conference.[7] He has introduced many other concepts and terminology into the library community, including the network level; collective collection; disclosure; sourcing and scaling; library logistics; making data work harder; Amazoogle; in the flow; discovery happens elsewhere; inside out and outside in (of collections) and web scale.[8] He introduced the term memory institution into popular use.[9]

Dempsey has written[10] and presented[11] extensively on library issues.[12] His published works cover topics such as the Warwick Framework,[13] libraries in the contemporary world,[14] the evolution of the digital library,[15] and the library catalogue.[16]

Views on Wikipedia[edit]

In 2006 he noted the importance of Wikipedia as an addressable knowledge base: Wikipedia makes it easy to include in any online communications a pointer to more knowledge on any topic using a convenient stable URL.[17] "The economy and convenience of doing this is enormous", he said.[17]

Rather than continuing a tedious Wikipedia good/Wikipedia bad conversation, we should recognize the attraction it has as an addressable knowledge base, understand the variety of uses to which it is put, and remind folks of the judgments they need to make depending on those uses.

— Lorcan Dempsey, "Wikipedia again: an addressable knowledge base"[18]

In 2012 he noted: "Wikipedia is already an 'addressable knowledge base', which creates huge value. DBpedia aims to add structure to this. Perhaps more importantly, Wikidata is an initiative to create a machine- and human-readable knowledge base of all the entities in Wikipedia and allow them to be augmented with further data and links."[19]


  • Course Director, TICER Summer School,[20] Tilburg University, The Netherlands, 21 to 24 August 2012.
  • Principal presenter, Hong Kong University Libraries Leadership Institute,[21] Bangkok, Thailand, 29 April to 3 May 2011.

Contributions to invitational lecture series[edit]

  • The Research Library: Scalable Efficiency and Scalable Learning. 2012 SLIS David Kaser Lecture Series, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana, 7 October 2012.[22]
  • Universities, libraries, collections, futures. Miles Conrad Lecture, NFAIS 52nd Annual Conference, Philadelphia. 1 March 2010.[23]
  • Discovery, Delivery, Disclosure. University of Minnesota Libraries Planning Speaker Series. Minneapolis, 23 November 2009.[24]
  • The Changing Scholarly and Cultural Record. Hall Center for the Humanities, University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas. 5 December 2007.[25]
  • The Network Rewrites the Library. Phineas L. Windsor Lectureship, UIUC-Graduate School of Library and Information Science, Urbana-Champaign, Illinois. 23 February 2007.[26]
  • Libraries and the network platform: A new cooperative context. Inaugural Frederick G. Kilgour Lecture in Information and Library Science, The School of Information and Library Science, UNC, Chapel Hill, North Carolina. 22 February 2006.


Dempsey is the co-recipient of the 2004 ALCTS presidential citation[27] and the 2010 NFAIS Miles Conrad award.[28] In June 2014, Dempsey was awarded[29] the Honorary Degree of Doctor of the University (DUniv) by The Open University of the UK.


  1. ^ Dempsey, Lorcan. "Orweblog". Retrieved 2 June 2014.
  2. ^ Hunter, Philip (23 June 2000). "Editorial Introduction to Issue 24: Plumbing the Digital Library". Retrieved 26 May 2014.
  3. ^ Dempsey, Lorcan & Pinfield, Stephen (10 January 2001). "Description of the DNER". Retrieved 24 May 2012.
  4. ^ "Lorcan Dempsey, OCLC". Retrieved 24 May 2012.
  5. ^ Dempsey, Lorcan. "Orweblog". Retrieved 5 January 2010.
  6. ^ Dempsey, Lorcan. "Twitter feed of Lorcan Dempsey". Retrieved 24 May 2012.
  7. ^ Dempsey, Lorcan (25 July 2007). "The amplified conference". Retrieved 30 August 2008.
  8. ^ "Web scale". 5 January 2007. Retrieved 28 May 2012.
  9. ^ "Memory Institutions". 2 December 2008. Retrieved 24 May 2012.
  10. ^ "Some written works by Lorcan Dempsey". Retrieved 24 May 2012.
  11. ^ "Some presentations by Lorcan Dempsey". Retrieved 24 May 2012.
  12. ^ "WorldCat holdings of Lorcan Dempsey". Retrieved 24 May 2012.
  13. ^ Dempsey, Lorcan & Weibel, Stuart (July 1996). "The Warwick Metadata Workshop: A Framework for the Deployment of Resource Description". Retrieved 24 May 2012.
  14. ^ Dempsey, Lorcan (5 January 2009). "Always On: Libraries in a World of Permanent Connectivity". Retrieved 24 May 2012.
  15. ^ Dempsey, Lorcan (8 February 2006). "The (Digital) Library Environment: Ten Years After". Retrieved 24 May 2012.
  16. ^ Dempsey, Lorcan (30 July 2006). "The Library Catalogue in the New Discovery Environment: Some Thoughts". Retrieved 24 May 2012.
  17. ^ a b Dempsey, Lorcan (30 March 2006). "An addressable knowledge-base". orweblog.oclc.org. OCLC. Archived from the original on 9 June 2007. Retrieved 14 December 2015. Reprinted in: Dempsey, Lorcan; Varnum, Kenneth J. (2014). The network reshapes the library: Lorcan Dempsey on libraries, services and networks. Chicago: ALA Editions, an imprint of the American Library Association. ISBN 9780838912331. OCLC 881280201.
  18. ^ Dempsey, Lorcan (8 February 2007). "Wikipedia again: an addressable knowledge base". orweblog.oclc.org. OCLC. Archived from the original on 9 June 2007. Retrieved 14 December 2015.
  19. ^ Dempsey, Lorcan (10 June 2012). "Making things of interest discoverable, referenceable, relatable ..." orweblog.oclc.org. OCLC. Archived from the original on 26 August 2012. Retrieved 14 December 2015. Reprinted in: Dempsey, Lorcan; Varnum, Kenneth J. (2014). The network reshapes the library: Lorcan Dempsey on libraries, services and networks. Chicago: ALA Editions, an imprint of the American Library Association. ISBN 9780838912331. OCLC 881280201.
  20. ^ "Lorcan Dempsey to Serve as Course Director for Ticer International Summer School 2012". 20 March 2012. Retrieved 26 May 2014.
  21. ^ "The 9th Annual Library Leadership Institute". 20 March 2012. Retrieved 2 June 2014.
  22. ^ "Lorcan Dempsey: Kaser Lecture Speaker, 10/5/12". 17 September 2012. Retrieved 2 June 2014.
  23. ^ "NFAIS names Lorcan Dempsey as 2010 Miles Conrad Lecturer". 6 March 2010. Retrieved 2 June 2014.
  24. ^ "University Libraries Planning Speaker Series". 23 November 2009. Retrieved 2 June 2014.
  25. ^ "Hall Center for the Humanities". 5 December 2007. Retrieved 2 June 2014.
  26. ^ "The Network Rewrites the Library". 23 February 2007. Retrieved 2 June 2014.
  27. ^ "ALCTS Awards Honor Outstanding Contributions". 2004. Retrieved 24 May 2012.
  28. ^ "Lorcan Dempsey is NFAIS 2010 Miles Conrad Lecturer". 5 March 2010. Retrieved 26 May 2014.
  29. ^ Open University (2014). "Presentation of Graduates and Conferment of Honorary Degrees" (PDF). Retrieved 26 May 2012.