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December 13, 2019

Access Services Conference: What We Learned in Atlanta

Posted by: Leah Rodriguez

If you've been following this blog, you've probably noticed that Reprints Desk—in our quest to learn and share with the research community we serve—has been doing a lot of traveling lately, attending and participating in a slew of conferences across the globe. And we're not planning to slow down anytime soon. Most recently, we headed to Atlanta, Georgia for the 2019 Access Services Conference

Although this was Reprints Desk's first time attending and exhibiting at the conference—which has been held annually since 2009—it’s been in our sights for years. 

"I've heard good things about the Access Services Conference and have always wanted to participate," said Tony Landolt, Reprints Desk Head of Academic Business Development. "The conference is limited to 300 attendees, and there's always a waitlist." 

The conference did not disappoint! 

"I was very impressed by the scope of sessions and the conversation," said Scott Ahlberg, Chief Operations Officer at Reprints Desk. "It was attended by a diverse group of librarians and industry professionals from across the country—who earnestly care about ensuring that their users have access to the library services they need. That can come in such disparate ways as looking at furniture design for differently-abled users, cataloging options for unusual content types, and the impact on users if your library can’t afford to subscribe to everything." 

Indeed, the program schedule spanned the spectrum—from stacks and space management, leadership, and customer service to reserves, interlibrary loans (ILL), and resource sharing. 


One session of particular interest to our team at Reprints Desk was "Using Interlibrary Loan Data to Evaluate Journal Subscription Decisions," presented by Kate Zdepski, resource sharing librarian at the University of Massachusetts (UMass) Amherst. Kate's exceptional presentation focused on an ongoing, collaborative project assessing the impact of UMass's big deal cancellation of its Royal Society of Chemistry journal bundle; the resulting impact on ILL use, faculty research, and library-wide costs; and the library's related decision making processes. 

After the event, Tony had a chance to catch up with Kate to get a bit more insight: "I'd say my key points are that libraries are having to make difficult decisions due to quickly rising subscription costs--and that it’s important to be transparent with faculty. It's important to find practical, consistent ways to evaluate those decisions--although real impact is much more difficult to define." 

Another big hit of the conference was, “Movin’ on up: Lessons Learned from Moving from Access Services to Leading a Library.”  A packed house listened, learned, and laughed as David McCaslin, Library Director at Whittier College—in his entertaining, deadpan style—talked about the struggles he encountered in getting considered for library director/dean positions, with an Access Services background; the challenges he faced in the jump from managing an access services unit to leading a whole library organization; and insights on how lessons learned  in access services can be applied to library administration.

All in all, the Access Services Conference gets two thumbs up from our team. As we strive to learn, grow, and innovate, we will continue to share our insider’s view of the many events we attend each year. To see how Reprints Desk can help your institution gain easy, affordable access to scholarly literature, contact us.

Topics: library librarians access services Access Services Conference librarian