A Personal Take on the Access Services Conference

By Kevin Ford, Training and Library Solutions Consultant for Special Projects


Originally I wasn’t supposed to be there. The Access Services Conference in Atlanta has been one of my favorite conference-type trips in recent years but this year John Brunswick and Angela Mott were selected to attend, given their primary roles working with both ILLiad and Ares customers. As with all the conferences Atlas Systems attends, we want to be sure we have the right staff to interact with the attendees—whether to answer questions from current users or introduce prospective customers to our products and services.

Those of you who know me also know that I’m usually the quiet one in most social situations.  There’s a reason I’m the “database guy.” Shuffle a couple of random databases together into one, and make the thing function properly?  Yeah, that sounds like fun.  Put me in a room full of people and expect me to hold semi-coherent conversations for several hours?  Not really my thing. So you might be surprised to hear that I was a little disappointed when I learned I wouldn’t be traveling to Atlanta for the conference.


Fast-forward a few weeks. Atlas’ fall conference planning is in full swing and I am asked to attend a meeting about the Access Services Conference. That’s when I learned that I’d be going to Atlanta after all. Apparently, we’d had such a great response to invitations to the Ares Users Group and Happy Hour meeting that we needed another person to help out at the conference. And that third person was me.   

Throughout the conference, whether at the Atlas table, at the welcome reception, or in the Users Group, I talked to many people, some familiar to me, some not. I fielded several support-related questions from current customers and talked with potential new customers about Atlas’ software solutions.

I chatted with long-time customers who have now become friends--about spouses, children, dogs, cats, their latest trip to someplace exotic, and on and on.  You know, the normal so-called trivial things that, ultimately, end up being the most important. I reminisced with several people from my old ILL days back at Virginia Tech, half a lifetime ago. 

And that’s when the true value of attending conferences really hit home. It’s all about the people. It’s the people we have the pleasure to deal with on a daily basis. It’s the people we never hear from unless something catastrophic has happened. And it’s the people in between. From the customer-turned-friend discussing the latest antics of her dog, or the newly-met customer whose support issue I’ve successfully resolved, it’s the personal interactions that make working for Atlas Systems and attending conferences as a member of the Atlas team a rewarding personal experience.

So next time this shy, database guy thinks he’d rather stay home than travel to where the customers are, I will take a step back and remember why we do what we do. It’s the people. It’s definitely the people. 

E-Reserves Workshop in Ottawa

Carleton University, Ottawa

By: Genie Powell

This past Friday, Carleton University hosted an E-Reserves Workshop for area libraries to attend. Coming from Virginia, I expected it to be cold, but even by Canadian standards it was a bit harsh. The severity of the weather was outdone by the warmth of everyone I met, though.

Joanne Rumig is the Coordinator for Library Reserves Services at Carleton’s MacOdrum Library and was the mastermind behind this workshop. She graciously offered to pick me up from my hotel and navigate me around campus. When she pulled up to the hotel, her doors were still frozen shut. Welcome to Canada!

After meeting everyone and getting the best cup of Tim Horton’s coffee, it was time to buckle down. We started out with a review of what’s new in Ares. That gave me an opportunity not only to talk about Atlas’ development plans but to remind them how important their feedback is in UserVoice.

Faculty/Student Panel               Photo Credit: Genie Powell

Faculty/Student Panel             Photo Credit: Genie Powell

Heather Martin from University of Guelph gave a great overview of the survey they conducted on campus to find out if students were buying their textbooks and if so, why not. She pointed out several ways that the library could help those students by keeping a copy on reserves, communicating with instructors proactively, and extending usage time limits.

Instructor Provided Books           Photo Credit: Genie Powell

Instructor Provided Books           Photo Credit: Genie Powell

Kevin Bowrin and Marc Lewis presented on some tips and tricks they are implementing at Carleton to allow users to more easily submit items from citation trackers (like EndNote) and how to catch and clean up user data from their course and user loads.

I was able to sit with several Ares sites over lunch to talk about possibilities for better handling physical reserves. It was great to hear from users directly and brainstorm together.

Interestingly, the portion that was most beneficial to everyone was when Carleton staff gave a tour of their reserves area and talked about their processes. I learned that Carleton’s library has hundreds of board games on reserve! And they wrap all the instructor provided books in red covers to protect them and make it obvious. Staff took others to their personal workstations to show them the Ares client, their filing systems, and compare notes. It was very eye opening for everyone! 

Board Games on Reserve            Photo Credit: Genie Powell

Board Games on Reserve            Photo Credit: Genie Powell

Carleton invited faculty and students from campus to answer questions about how they use E-Reserves and get their unique perspectives. It was fantastic to hear from users directly and built a lot of community. 

Lastly, we heard from Lisa Di Valentino about the recent copyright judicial rulings this summer in Canada. She gave an excellent overview of how the tariff and Access Copyright have affected fair dealing in Canada over the last 10 years. We are all anxiously awaiting the appeal results from York University. In addition, Val Critchley from Carleton created an amazing set of copyright scenarios to discuss.

Copyright Scenarios                            Photo Credit: Genie Powell

Copyright Scenarios                            Photo Credit: Genie Powell

I admit that when I first read the scenarios, they all sounded impossible to determine the right path. But as we went through them, they became increasingly clear. It’s very reassuring to not only provide a material to instructors and students, but to know that you’re well within the guidelines doing so. The exercises were a real confidence booster for me.

As everyone packed up, there was already excited talk of “the next workshop” and who would host it. Everyone agreed that seeing each other face to face and comparing notes was incredibly valuable and worth braving the cold.

Atlas Staff Visit Virginia Beach's First Public Library

Virginia Beach, Virginia

By: Stephanie Spires

You just can’t keep Atlas staff out of the library, even on the weekend!  Recently, while attending a fundraising event, John and Anne Marie had the opportunity to visit Virginia Beach’s First Public Library.  As noted on the commemorative sign at the exhibit, the library was created in 1930 by the Women’s Municipal League when each member brought 2 books to a party to start the collection.  A one room building was purchased for $50 to house the books.  It was moved to five different locations before closing in 1946.  It was abandoned for some time and moved to the Atlantic Wildfowl Heritage Museum Grounds in 2001.


John and Anne Marie were kindly treated to a private tour while attending a fundraising event at Atlantic Wildfowl when the director learned that they serve libraries at Atlas Systems, Inc. 


The library contains first edition copies of ‘Dick and Jane’ and the ‘The Wizard of Oz.’ It also has the original librarian’s desk. There is an effort underway to fully restore the building and open it for tours. The director hopes to have a volunteer docent dress up as a librarian in 1930s attire and provide programs for children.

Photo credits to John Brunswick and Anne Marie Lyons

Photo credits to John Brunswick and Anne Marie Lyons