May 19, 2024

Roy Tennant About Roy Tennant

Roy Tennant is a Senior Program Officer for OCLC Research. He is the owner of the Web4Lib and XML4Lib electronic discussions, and the creator and editor of Current Cites, a current awareness newsletter published every month since 1990. His books include "Technology in Libraries: Essays in Honor of Anne Grodzins Lipow" (2008), "Managing the Digital Library" (2004), "XML in Libraries" (2002), "Practical HTML: A Self-Paced Tutorial" (1996), and "Crossing the Internet Threshold: An Instructional Handbook" (1993). Roy wrote a monthly column on digital libraries for Library Journal for a decade and has written numerous articles in other professional journals. In 2003, he received the American Library Association's LITA/Library Hi Tech Award for Excellence in Communication for Continuing Education. Follow him on Twitter @rtennant.


  1. Teague Allen says:

    It seems very possible for this revolution will start from the bottom up, as Roy Tennant and Gil Scott-Heron describe. But a successful revolution is relatively rare; those that do succeed provide new institutions and structures to replace those overthrown. Since we’re talking about a standard, there will be someone or something at some point that says “Thou shalt use this”. It may be an existing institution that participates and floats to the top fast enough to look like a leader, as the Library of Congress and OCLC seem to be trying for — it may be, or an entity yet to be established — but sooner or later, there will will almost certainly be an entity that reigns over, even if not entirely ruling, the new ecosystem.

  2. Teague, I disagree that it will necessarily be a standard. But I am surprised that you used the phrase that I will be introducing and explaining in a later post — a new ecosystem. I think that is exactly what we need and I will describe in some detail what I think that will entail. That is why I am breaking this up into a series of posts — there is way too much to put into one. Perhaps these posts will end up being the first draft of a paper.

  3. Rebecca says:

    I agree that for any change to occur it has to come from the bottom up. I’m a library student just starting to learn Marc coding and can already see that there are problems with it. The best types of revolutions or even development of new standards in libraries have come from individual libraries or groups of them working together. One library starts something then another adopts it. OCLC and the Library of Congress are part of this but not always the initiator. For this problems I think we will also need to think outside the box building on what we have to create something new and great.

  4. Jon Phipps says:

    Hi Roy,

    re: “…people left [the NISO meeting] with the personal agendas they arrived with — some of them quite strongly held.”

    My colleagues Diane Hillmann and Gordon Dunsire arrived at, and left, the NISO meeting with the strong agenda of getting the message across that what’s needed moving forward is a revolution and that “…anything dictated from on high will not be a revolution.”

    We’re delighted that you got it! But ultimately (as Teague and Rebecca also point out) the revolution will have to have the active participation of “the Library of Congress or NISO or OCLC ([your] employer)” to succeed. This is libraries we’re talking about after all, and the vast majority of librarians, however strong their revolutionary fervor, can’t function without the institutional infrastructure provided by their library, an infrastructure largely dictated by the major ILS vendors and supported by the organizations you mention.

    Perversely, there needs to be strong vendor support for innovation and an unusual degree of institutional flexibility (starting perhaps with your employer) for the revolution to succeed.

  5. Eddie F. Fitzgerald says:


    surely you’re catching a lot more attention talking about a revolution, but from my understanding the process will be (and have to be) an evolutionary one.