Access continues to be–year in, year out–one of the highlights on my annual conference calendar. The fact that it’s single-stream means we all see the same talks and have shared points of reference after the conference ends. That’s a powerful engine for fostering collaboration and continuity. What I’d love to see is more library leadership–deans, ULs, AULs–at the event. The new ideas and the incredible motivation to make these ideas happen that many of the speakers demonstrate is something that administrators need to witness and grasp.
Dale Askey, Associate University Librarian at McMaster University
The first time I went to Access was 2006 in Ottawa. I was one year out of library school. I was unemployed. I paid my own way. I didn’t want to miss it. Everyone I admired in the library technology world was going to be there. They were excited about it, and said how much they loved the conference every year. When I got there, the first morning, I thought, ‘These are my people.’ I left admiring a lot of new acquaintances. Every year I go, I feel the same way and the same thing happens.
William Denton, Web Librarian at York University
I’ve attended, presented at, steered, planned, and hosted Access (not all at once, thankfully). So hopefully you’ll believe me when I tell you that it’s a really awesome conference and a brilliantly supportive and welcoming community. I can’t wait for September.
Amanda Etches, Associate Chief Librarian (Interim) at the University of Guelph
I firmly believe there is no library conference as welcoming, informative, and entertaining as Access. I’ve organized, presented, and been an attendee, and the people I’ve met there and the things I’ve learned have stayed with me. It’s something like summer camp but with fewer mosquitoes, or a road trip where you all stay in one place.
If you’re on the fence about it and want some reassurance, please let me know on twitter (@adr). I want to hear from you — *particularly* if you’ve never been to a previous Access.
John Fink, Digital Scholarship Librarian at McMaster University
As a first-timer and librarynoob I had an awesome time! As a bonus I learned about how my skills are relevant to libraries.
Patrick Fung, Web Applications Developer at Ryerson University
Kim Martin, Ph.D. Student (Library and Information Studies) at the University of Western Ontario
The Canadian tech landscape is a different beast: Canadian privacy legislation, AODA, and our cellphone plans are all quite different from our neighbours to the south. Access Conference focuses on this Canadian context, filling in the Canadian-specific gaps which were often present in non-Canadian presentations. I also cannot say enough about the value of the relationships I’ve built at Access throughout the years: with this shared Canadian-context and a love of technology as our foundation, I’ve found that these collegial relationships have resulted in many mutually-beneficial partnerships.
Randy Oldham, Web Development Librarian at the University of Guelph
I had just about given up on library conferences when I attended Access 2013 in St John’s. The experience rekindled my sense of community and my interest in the wider-world of library technology. There are regular Access attendees, but the conference itself is quite diverse, and it was energizing to discuss technological issues with people working in very different areas. The presentations and informal discussions are great, but the best thing about Access is how fun it can be.
Sam Popowich, Discovery Systems Librarian at the University of Alberta
The Access conference is my favourite library conference because of the community. The single track format, hackfest and social events means that you get to spend a lot time with the most innovative, engaged and generous library technology folks across Canada. It is the best place to learn, network and recharge in libraryland.
Tara Robertson, Accessibility Librarian for CAPER-BC
Access is like a family reunion, where your relatives are all people who care an awful lot about technology in libraries. It’s an accepting bunch full of awesome humans who come from all over, and meet once a year like no time has ever gone by.
The most important thing I get from Access every year is a sense that I’m not the only one who deals with certain types of issues. Lots of generalist library conferences focus on building public facing services, which is important, but can become isolating for tech folks. Access is a safe haven where you can talk about EZProxy or USI stats for two hours and no one will try and change the subject. This stuff makes me better at my job, and I like to think that what I bring to the table helps others to be good at their jobs as well.
OK, last thing: I’m going to plug hosting Access. If I could do it again I would, but there are only so many times per decade that you can ask people to fly to Calgary outside of Stampede season. The best part about it was that it made the rest of the librarians in my city more aware of issues in library technology. Tons of folks from Calgary who would not have normally gone to Access came out, and it developed a whole new tone of conversation ‘round these parts. The local library association got involved as well, hosting a library crawl during the preconference. Hosting Access gave me a chance to show my colleagues why the nebulous job that I do is so cool.
So give Access a shot. I know you’ll love it. And if you don’t, I will personally write and sing to you a song at the next open mic night that happens to take place directly following an Access preconference social. You have my word.
Catelynne Sahadath, Head of Metadata Development at the University of Calgary
Just how great is Access? Well, let the tweets speak for themselves.
When the committee was in the initial stages of planning AccessYYZ, they asked people what they like about Access and/or what they get out of the conference. They got a variety of wonderful and heartwarming responses*. We dare you to read these and not think about attending and/or hosting.
*Which are copy and pasted verbatim without Twitter handles, because we couldn’t find the initial attribution. Also, because of privacy. We pinky swear we didn’t make these up ourselves. Though we are pleased at how feel-goody they are…you guys know just what to say!
“Is to too cliche to say the sense of community? Focus is less on formality, more about the content/getting stuff done.” (1/2) + “Also hackfest <3” (2/2)
“Single stream. Welcoming community. Good mix of talks. gggRReat people.”
“Single stream is key. I like the keynotes (Montreal had some of my faves). Access is for both public facing and computer facing”
“@AccessLibCon is one of the few conferences where the program itself is a major draw for me.”
“Because @AccessLibCon is small and single stream, it also generates very valuable discussions outside of the program – shared experience.”
“My emotional attachment to @AccessLibCon stems at least a little from its grass roots nature. Organized by the community for it.”
“It’s not big, it’s not flashy, and it works hard to keep registration accessible.”
“What’s valuable to me about @AccessLibCon content is that I can’t fully understand it all.”
“@AccessLibCon has the least infrastructure/standards as any conference I’ve org’d (1/2)” + “Yet it has such a strong communal sense of what is great about it, it almost gets handed down carefully via osmosis” (2/2)
“Single stream is probably the spring from which most/all @AccessLibCon joy comes forth, really.”
“community, single track, small in people but dense in ideas, canadians are nice – even to me”
“community. smart and generous people I want to learn things from and share stuff with, including my work failures.”
“another ‘traveling band’ technical conference with very high signal to noise ratio. Also the dancing can’t forget the dancing”
“I don’t have much to add! Agree with what’s been said. *Most* important thing for me is prob. ‘by community for community’”
“single stream, broad topic range, collegial environment, conversations outside the sessions, knowing what’s going on in canada.”