Access Lab day two session descriptions

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Plenary: Lifting the lid: achieving trust and trustworthiness when working with learner data.

Over the summer, many young people found themselves at the mercy of a system of assessment they didn’t understand. Opaque systems and processes left many in shock. Plenty had their plans for the future thrown into disarray. The long-term impact could be a significant shift in the way students view data. In this plenary, Chris will explore why this might be a pivotal moment for educational institutions. With increased numbers of students learning remotely using digital tools and platforms, analytics and automation are likely to play a larger part in structuring the student experience and it’s essential that learners and teachers have a role in shaping how these work in order to preserve trust. Chris will outline how some examples of current practice and thinking in building staff-student partnerships around data could provide a useful template that empowers people to participate rather than making them the subjects of automation.

Chris Thomson, subject specialist – digital practice, Jisc

What did the pandemic do to usage stats?

OpenAthens is in the possibly unique position of being able to easily aggregate data from thousands of organisations around the world over many different sectors. What did we see in the stats when the pandemic hit us all in March 2020? What did we expect to see going in, and what did we actually see?

Andy Anderson, data analyst – OpenAthens

Jas Sahota

How can user-centred design help us understand our users?

Taking the steps to better understand the needs of your users does not have to be complicated. Employing user-centred design in product or service development opens new opportunities and minimizes the risk of failure. Whether or not a product or a service reflects user-needs can influence if a user returns to it or looks elsewhere next time. To help get you started in taking a more user-centric approach, this session will provide an overview on the methods used by the product team in developing OpenAthens Lite.

Jas Sahota, product manager – OpenAthens

Liz Sayce

Panel debate: Crossing the digital divide through collaboration

This year’s pandemic spotlighted issues around the digital divide that we can no longer afford to leave on the back burner. Change is here and now. Let’s grasp it and build a better future for everyone. 

Access to the internet, digital devices, digital resources and appropriate spaces to learn and study all come into the mix when it comes to giving people equal access to knowledge.  

As providers of scholarly information, how can librarians and publishers work together to close the gap between those that have access to knowledge and those that don’t? And what steps do we need to take as a community to make sure we’re doing our very best for our library users? 

Our panel debate will discuss some of the issues around the digital divide. Speakers will share their ideas on how we can provide a more equitable service for researchers and students, wherever they are in the world. 

TDNet logo 2Our panel debate is sponsored by TDNet. TDNet, provides powerful tailored user experience solutions to organisations in the corporate and healthcare sectors. Visit to find out more!



Jake Smallridge

The future of the OpenAthens product

An overview of OpenAthens’ future product plans and priorities. We’ll highlight the focus areas and problems we aim to tackle with some sneak peeks of future updates and functionality. This session will cover the future roadmap for our library and publisher products, focusing on key strategic areas over the next year.

Jake Smallridge, product manager – OpenAthens

Sam Herbert

Roundtable discussion: The importance of data

Data is shaping our world in a way we never imagined. We use data every day to get access to services. We use analytics tools to make informed decisions about library content. And we’re building and using value added services generated by artificial intelligence and machine learning. But what are some of the challenges around our collection, storage and use of data?  

Our roundtable will bring together our expert panel to discuss some of the ethics around the accuracy, validity and ethics of how we use data.


  • Chair: Sam Herbert, managing director, 67bricks 
  • Lettie Conrad, Scholarly Kitchen chef  
  • Samantha Heeson, electronic and data services librarian, Leeds Beckett University
  • Scott Williams, VP of Platforms and TechnologyDe Gruyter 

EBSCOEBSCO is sponsoring our roundtable discussion. EBSCO is the leading provider of research databases, e-journals, magazine subscriptions, e-books and discovery service to libraries of all kinds. For more than 70 years, EBSCO has partnered with libraries to improve research with quality content and technology. Discover our partner and sponsor: 

Access Lab event attendee

Discover Access Lab 2021

Access Lab is the place where libraries, publishers and library users can discuss challenges and solutions around discovery and access to digital content and services.  If you would like to find out more, visit the main event page. 

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