April 23, 2018

David Lindahl | Movers & Shakers 2010 – Innovators

Library Journal March 15, 2010: David Lindahl, Mover & Shaker


What’s a computer scientist who worked for ten years at Xerox, many of them in the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center in Rochester, NY, doing proposing the hiring of an anthropologist to study users in the University of Rochester (UR) libraries? Serving user needs, from the perspective of the UR libraries’ many different patrons and employees. Since 2001, when David Lindahl came on board at the library, he’s been applying a unique, ethnography-based approach to product development that relies on “in-context observation of work and codesign with end users,” says Lindahl.

Most of Lindahl’s efforts go toward the eXtensible Catalog (www.extensiblecatalog.org), a set of open source applications that, says Lindahl, “will unify access to traditional and digital library resources.” It uses the library’s “wealth” of existing metadata, offers faceted searching via a fully customizable interface, and searches disparate types of resources through a Google-like search box. The project has received three Mellon grants, led to numerous presentations and publications by UR library staff, drawn international attention, and “spawned a not-for-profit organization,” says Lindahl’s boss, Susan Gibbons, vice provost and dean of River Campus Libraries.

“He is able to generate a number of different solutions to technology problems and imagine how they will work and what their consequences will be…. [He] has a gift for seeing the use of technology…for the broadest range of people,” says Gibbons. That makes him invaluable.


David Lindahl, University of Rochester, River Campus Libraries, NY

CURRENT POSITION Software Development Director, River Campus Libraries; Co-Executive Director, eXtensible Catalog Organization

DEGREE MS, Computer Science, Rochester Institute of Technology, 1996