LIS Professional Blogs: The Jester vs. Marshall Breeding

As I have indicated in several of the entries in this blog, my interests in LIS lie in the direction of technological applications and adaptations in libraries. What direction within the broad encompassing term “technology” I intend to go in is another question, one which I assess day to day and week to week. Part of this assessment involves doing a large amount of research in my spare time on a plethora of subjects, from open source ILS’s to Linux to PHP/MySQL. In this post, I thought it would be fitting to compare and discuss two LIS tech-oriented blogs I’ve found and perused this semester. This compare should be interesting, as it pits one of the most widely known and respected LIS technologists, Marshal Breeding, against a feisty LIS blogger known as the Disruptive Library Technology Jester. Both blog about topics related to technology developments, trends, and topics within the sphere of libraries.

One particular topic that both blogs talk about in some length is the use and adoption of open source software by libraries. Breeding’s website is msotly dedicated to library automation technology, which includes integrated library systems, content management systems, and circulation modules. As systems librarian for over 20 years, Breeding has worked with many forms and formats of LIS automation. On his website (LTG from now on), Breeding has taken in recent months to posting his thoughts as well as news concerning open source ILS implementations, notably forms of Koha and Evergreen. Many of the latest news articles in his news feed on the right side of the LTG home page discuss libraries across the world adopting or migrating to OS ILS’s. Breeding also has links on his website to articles he has written for LIS literature, including his colum in Computers in Libraries, the System Librarian. Breeding often weights in on the practical pros and cons of implementing an open source ILS solution.

In contrast to Breeeding’s weighted and professional tone, the Jester (aka Peter Murray, assistant director in Technology Services Development at LYRASIS) takes on a more cynical and deliberately stirring voice. The stated purpose of his blog “…is all about exploring the expanse between these two points [of small incremental change in the library world versus the rapid, radical, and disruptive], with a tendecy towards the disruptive side of the spectrum” ( The Jester’s posts cover many interesting topics in library technology (one particularly interesting post was about the security liabilites of librarians learning how to program on their own), and often ones that at least in my searches were hard to find on other LIS blogs. Searching through his website, I found serveral articles concerning open source solutions for libraries, most of them dealing with guidelines for libraries thinking about implementing open ILS’s. One particularly unique article discussed how a large number of developers that actively contribute to Linux actually also work for big name companies such as Intel and  IBM, and the Jester hypotheses about if a parallel scenario occured within the ongoing OS community development of OS ILS’s like Koha and Evergreen (imagine of Sirsi-Dynix contributed to Koha!)

Both of these blogs have added to my own rapidly expanding knowledge concerning information technology in an LIS context. I hope over Christmas break to delve into more of Breedings past articles (especially from CIL) and see if I truly want to take the technology plunge and become a systems librarian in this time of uncertain and ongoing industry transformation. DLTJ (the Jester) provides me with a place to go see cynical posts about the library world at large, as well as some hard to find LIS topics and some truly unique and thought provoking ideas.


Breeding, M. (2012). Library technology guides.

Murray, Peter. (2012). Disruptive library technology jester.


3 Responses to “LIS Professional Blogs: The Jester vs. Marshall Breeding”

  1. Greetings, unidentified history-graduate-turned-LIS student. Thanks for stopping by my blog and taking a look. I found your perspective interesting because I do not intend to strike a cynical tone. In fact, in the first post cited about the security implications of new librarian-turned-coders creating public-facing systems was intended as cautionary for managers and supportive in suggesting other ways that librarians can build up their coding skills before facing the untamed badlands of the public internet.

    Good luck with the end of your first semester and with the rest of your LIS studies.

    • Greetings. I did not mean to misrepresent or misappropriate the content of your website by referring to it as “cynical”. I chose that particular descriptor as I thought your posts were (at least in comparison to other LIS blogs I haved perused) rather…disruptive. I guess cynical was not the word I should have used.
      Either way, your website is fantastic and several of my classmates have mentioned it in conversation. It doesn’t seem like many librarians are talking constructively about all the changing technology in the industry, they just like to talk about how its changing without serious thought about solutions or implementations.
      Thanks for taking the time to contact me!

      • Ah, I see. I do tend towards “disruptive” but in a particular sense of the word. I take Clayton Christensens Theory of Disruptive Innovation ( to heart as to how it impacts what libraries are doing. There is a bibliography of his theory as it relates to higher education at

        As an introduction, I would recommend these two citations:

        Lewis, David W. The Innovators Dilemma: Disruptive Change and Academic Libraries. Library Administration & Management 18(2):68-74. Spring 2004. Available online at

        Lafferty, Susana; Edwards, Jenny. Disruptive technologies: what future universities and their libraries?Library Management 25(6-7): 252-258. 2004.

        Glad to see you are considering a career in library technology or digital publishing. You might find kindred spirits in the Code4Lib community ( There is a mailing list, an IRC channel, an e-journal, an national and regional meet-ups. Best of luck in the rest of your studies.

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