Access, e.g. “the premier library technology conference in Canada”, was a hit this year in Winnipeg. From October 13-16, librarians, programmers, developers, technicians, and some eager job-seekers gathered in the sublime and historic Fort Garry Hotel to share ideas and experiences on functionality, open source alternatives, innovative service technologies, and most of all, access!
This was my first Access conference, and I have to admit, at first I was a bit anxious about attending because I am not a systems librarian. I was interested in attending Access 2010 because of my emerging interests in library technologies, open source, and the uses of mobile technologies in library settings. I was worried that the level of technical literacy and depth of systems-discussion would be over my head. I was relieved to learn that I was not alone in my amateur contribution to systems librarianship, but also, I found that I could relate and keep up with the content far better than I’d feared.
I would say that 65-70% of the sessions were of relevance to my current job and were of personal interest. The other 30-35% were either a bit too specific, or catered to niche library environments (e.g. GIS, bilingual considerations, linked data), and while these didn’t related to my current job, were still captivating presentation topics.
The biggest lesson that I took away from the conference is that people like me (i.e. non-systems librarians) should become as well-versed with information systems as they independently can. I don’t mean that every librarian should be writing code and developing applications for their library (although, that would be rad), I just mean that having an informed and basic understanding of the capabilities and possibilities of current technologies enhances library services.
The Access conference really encouraged me to explore areas of librarianship that many librarians are reluctant to embrace because we tell ourselves that “it’s too techy”, or that “it’s IT’s job, not mine.” This isn’t exactly a groundbreaking statement but something I’ve come to realize: collaborative creation and innovation in library services are achieved through the integration of emerging technologies with updated library service/access models. Not only is it a necessity for library services to stay current, but consider that working with open source (i.e. a customizable framework), Smart Phone capabilities (e.g. QR codes, handheld access, etc.), and metadata are all really fun!
Below were some of my favourite sessions from Access2010. You can also view the entire schedule (and some presentations) here.
“Usability testing and the Google generation” – Lisa Fast (NeoInsight)
“A human library” – Randy Oldham, Janet Kaufman (University of Guelph)
“After launching search and discovery, who is mission control?” – William Denton, Adam Taves (York University)
“eXtensible Catalog: Take control of library metadata and websites” – David Lindahl (University of Rochester)