UPEI was fortunate enough to be able to send a few staff to Access this year, a conference which never fails to stimulate. One of those in attendance was Chris MacLauchlan, who works at Circulation and Reference and takes an insatiable curiosity to the stuff she is doing using a host of open source tools. For example, Chris mashed up a Reserve/eReserve system when we moved to Evergreen, using a combination of Evergreen bookbags and Drupal books/file attachments to craft an interim solution. We are lucky to have Chris on staff at Robertson and I know she was impressed with the Access nerds she met :-) Here is Chris's description of the conference as sent to the Library staff.
For those not interested in the incredible things that are happening in the technology of LibraryLand, you can stop reading now ;-)
For the rest of you, since PEI is hosting Access 2009, I thought I'd share some of the impressions I had from Access 2008 as a first-timer, so that you will be better informed about the whole thing.
There is an impressive collection of individuals gathered for this conference from all across North America. The complete list of delegates and their associated libraries can be found at: http://access2008.blog.lib.mcmaster.ca/
Many of these individuals are the folks who are most active LibraryLand — writing the blogs, writing the code, setting the course for the rest of us to follow. Too cool to be sitting at the same table with folks from Princeton, Yale, UCSD, Drexel, Simon Fraser, Brown, etc. etc. Others were seeking out Paul, Grant and Melissa for their input on Drupal, Fedora, and, to a lesser extent, Evergreen. Research, public, small and large university and college libraries were all represented. And there were those, like me, who had never been to an Access conference, weren't necessarily programmers, and/or librarians but were interested in learning more about the stuff that was happening. As an example of the generosity of spirit that surrounds this conference — Karen Schneider was the opening keynote speaker on Wednesday. She is the community librarian recently hired by Equinox with an impressive background of speaking and writing. After her talk, she joined us at our table to seek out our input from our experiences with Evergreen. Wow. How neat to be able to have that kind of access. As we were making suggestions (read complaints) she's back and forth with someone at Evergreen to see if anything can be done. I have promised to send documentation to someone at a college in Ontario who is planning on moving to Evergreen but had questions about how reserves were being handled until the actual module to control that is built.
The topics (http://access2008.blog.lib.mcmaster.ca/program/) covered by the speakers covered the spectrum of library experience with presentations from folks who were working on stuff like integrating the library catalogue and library website with programs like VuFind http://www.vufind.org/. In the very near future students will be able to browse for materials for their research without having to enter a single keyword! Some of the material presented is available now through OpenSource licensing, others are vendor based. The presentations happen one right after the other, so you don't have to chose which ones you want to attend and they were all held in the same hotel where we were staying, so we didn't have to go outside in the rain to get from point A to B. The closing keynote speaker was Bob Young who is the founder of Lulu.com, a publishing service that essentially allows print on demand. One of the presenters, Roy Tennant chose to make his recent publication "Technology in Libraries: Essays in Honor of Anne Grodzins Lipow" available as individual pdfs from http://techinlibraries.com/ or people/libraries can go to Lulu.com to have the whole thing printed as a hardcover.
Beyond the actual presentations, there was, of course, the food and social events. PEI will have to do something pretty unique in order to come up to the standards set in Hamilton. The host committee treated us to dinner on Friday evening giving us the opportunity to pick their brains about their organizing choices, suggestions, warnings, etc. Again, the generosity of spirit rears its beautiful head.
In short, Access is an opportunity to get away from the small daily annoyances that hold us back and immerse oneself in the possibilities. Hopefully others will see Access 2009 as an opportunity to show off PEI a little bit and learn a little something in the process.
Thanks for the opportunity to represent Robertson Library and UPEI at this year's conference.