Report from Access Conference 2013

By Louisa Kwasigroch posted

I’ve just returned from lovely coastal St. John’s, Newfoundland, and the Access Conference 2013, which wrapped up today. While Access has been going strong for 20 years, this was my first time attending, and I am glad I did. The single-track format and limit of 120 attendees fostered lively discussions that carried on to the evening events and continued on Twitter. There was something for everyone, from a digital humanities maker bus to RDA to APIs. Many of the talks were around the themes of digital preservation, linked data, and community engagement, all relevant to DLF’s members. 

Roy Tennant of OCLC kicked off the conference with his keynote looking back at 20 years of Access. It was like taking a trip through not only the history of the conference, but also through the Internet and libraries. It was interesting to see both how things have changed and how they have stayed the same.

John Voss, Historypin strategic partnerships director, gave an inspirational talk about preserving history, linked open data for libraries, museums, and archives (LODLAM), and fostering collaboration. The attendees seemed energized and enthusiastic after his presentation about how one story can change the world.

Rachel L. Frick, director of DLF, gave the closing keynote, Community, Understanding, Courage and Honesty. Her talk focused on creating access to collections, opening up data, and the strength in building and networking communities. She synthesized the 2.5 days of the conference and encouraged everyone to facilitate knowledge creation, open up their data, and look outside the field for collaboration opportunities.

So how can librarians collaborate with folks outside of our field? How do we get beyond “our own backyard” as Rachel L. Frick suggested? Over the conference the idea emerged that taking risks and trying and failing are good things. Taking a look at start-up culture was one suggestion. Let’s get our hands dirty, do some work, and see what emerges. Librarians need to try new things and we can learn more from failure than from success. I am already looking forward to next year’s conference in Calgary.

Access Conference 2013 was September 24-26 in St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada. Links to archived videos of the livefeed, Twitter, and flickr: http://accessconference.ca/access-2013-live/.