March 17, 2018

John Blyberg | Movers & Shakers 2006

User-Centered ‘Geek’


When he’s not working toward his ultimate objective of taking over the world and making everyone drive hybrid vehicles, self-described ‘library geek’ John Blyberg keeps plenty busy with his day job. The three years he spent rebuilding the Ann Arbor District Library’s (AADL) network and server infrastructure ‘from the ground up’ and moving to an open source content management system culminated in 2005’s launch of ‘AADL 3.0.’ Collaborative and dynamic, AADL 3.0 takes a revolutionary approach to library web sites, making the library’s online presence ‘an extension of the library ‘experience’ – a highly personalized space that the patron can feel ownership for.’

AADL 3.0 includes cross-postable blog entries, user comments, RSS feeds, gaming tournaments, and interwiki links, making for a dynamic, interactive online experience. In fact, some posts have garnered hundreds of patron comments. The site also integrates seamlessly with the catalog, offering RSS feeds of holds and checkouts and fluidity between site and catalog user accounts. Much more than just adding blogs or RSS feeds to an existing site, AADL 3.0 embraces a ‘Library 2.0’ perspective (though it predates the coining of the term). Borrowing principles from Web 2.0, Library 2.0 takes a new and disruptive approach to library service that emphasizes the importance of a two-way flow of information from users to institutions, resulting in a constant evolution and improvement of library service.

Blyberg’s focus on these principles led him to start his blog,, which lets him be ‘part of an ongoing discussion about the future of libraries and library services’ – not to mention to get his ‘writing fix!’ And write he does, creating some of the most cited and discussed contributions to the biblioblogosphere on topics from Library 2.0 to gaming in libraries, interspersed with free tools for other libraries to use.

One major contribution, Blyberg’s ‘ILS Customer Bill-of-Rights,’ lists ‘a collection of ‘must-haves’ for doing business in a Web 2.0 world,’ including giving libraries access to an open-standards application programming interface (API) to allow them to roll out new services and features on their own timeframe without being dependent on vendors getting around to it. Blyberg says, ‘We pay a lot of money for our systems…in return, we should be given all the components we need to pursue our vision.’ He wishes we would stop ‘enabling a model that, clearly, is broken’ and consider items on his list when shopping for an ILS; rolling out AADL 3.0 would have been much easier with a vendor-provided API. His commitment to Library 2.0 principles parallels his commitment to open source. ‘OS transcends politics, hate, war, prejudice, greed, and everything else that stifles creativity and innovation. In my heart, I know OS is a doctrine I want to



Current Position Network Administrator & Lead Developer, Ann Arbor District Library, MI
Degrees B.A. in English, University of Maine, Orono, 1998
Coursework MCSE, 1999; three semesters MFA Creative Writing, University of Michigan, 1998 – 99
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