Empowering Access and Ensuring Accessibility: Connecting People to Information and Collections

ALCTS 2018 Midwinter Symposium

Friday, February 9, 2018, 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. | Event code: ALC1 | Register 2018 ALA Midwinter Meeting

Connecting people to information is a fundamental tenet of librarianship. In the rapidly evolving information environment, librarians strive to enhance access and increase accessibility for all populations. These concepts are particularly important for those working in collections and technical services, where responsibility for identifying, selecting, acquiring, organizing, managing, digitizing, and preserving recorded knowledge resides. This symposium explores the landscape and horizon of collections and technical services work as it contributes to access and broad accessibility to stimulate knowledge creation, to foster innovation, and to empower libraries to have a transformative role in society.

Topics and Speakers


8:45 - 9:30 a.m.

Keynote SpeakerMichelle Jeske

Libraries Improving Access: Policies, Programs, and Promotion

Abstract: The United States is at a critical point in its evolution and the principles of our profession and the roles we play in our communities are more important than ever to ensure that all people have free and equal access to information and opportunities to learn, grow and thrive. Libraries are drivers of civic health and engagement. Individually, our libraries make positive impacts on our communities. Collectively, we have the power to make this a better world in which to live. Michelle will talk about the important work libraries are doing to improve access to opportunities through changes in policies, creative programs and promotion of collections, services and resources.


Michelle Jeske is the Denver City Librarian, head of the 26-location urban library system with more than 4.4 million annual visitors. Michelle has worked for the Denver Public Library since 2001 and appointed City Librarian in 2015. She has served in a number of different positions at the library including the director of Collections, Technology and Innovation and manager of Web Information Services and the Community Technology Center. Prior to the Denver Public Library, Jeske worked for the TCL CARL Corporation, San Antonio Public Library and New York Public Library. Her honors include Public Library Association Leadership Fellow, Colorado Librarian of the Year and Library Journal Mover and Shaker. Michelle earned her Master’s of Librarianship from the University of Washington and a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies and Political Science from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas. She also holds a Master’s certificate in Organizational Development from Colorado State University.

Michelle serves on the PLA Board of Directors, PLA Family Engagement Task Force and PLA 2018 National Conference Subcommittee and currently chairs the ALA Nominating Committee for the 2018 ALA Election. In Denver, she is active in numerous city and community groups focused on youth and community engagement and is a passionate advocate for the public library’s democratic role in the community. Michelle’s family includes a husband, two cats and a puppy and she enjoys making mosaics, reading, hiking, cooking and fermenting.


Interinstitutional Collaboration to Build Accessible Collections

9:30 - 10:15 a.m.

Heidi SchroederAbstract: Due to a growing concern about the inaccessibility of many library electronic resources, the Big Ten Academic Alliance Libraries formed an E-Resource Accessibility Group to assess the accessibility of major resources, influence vendors, and ultimately advance the field of electronic resource accessibility by sharing information. This presentation will describe the group’s background, formation, and charge; what strategies and resources it offers; how individual libraries can benefit from the group’s activities; and how other library consortia might engage in similar accessibility work.

Heidi M. Schroeder, MLIS, is the Accessibility Coordinator and Science Collections Coordinator at the Michigan State University (MSU) Libraries in East Lansing, Michigan. She was instrumental in the creation and charge of the Big Ten Academic Alliance Library E-Resource Accessibility Group and currently serves as its Chair. At the MSU Libraries, Heidi currently coordinates and oversees all library accessibility initiatives and leads a team of 6 librarians who provide information services to the university’s science colleges/departments. She has presented numerous times on accessibility in libraries and recently co-authored a book chapter on accessibility and usability in health sciences collections. She received her MLIS from Wayne State University and her BA from the University of Michigan.


Accessing Library Data: Systems, Standards, and Strategies

10:30 - 11:30 a.m.

Heather Moulaison SandyLibrary Metadata to Promote Discovery: Considerations and Examples

Abstract: As libraries move to be more responsive to their clientele, great strides are being made in collecting and making available unique content. The way that information is organized – how it is described and classified, as well as the decisions and standards supporting organization – all affect access. For specialized content with stakeholders who are not part of the dominant culture, accessibility issues must be taken into account as part of the “Speak the User’s Language” usability heuristic. What are libraries currently doing to make specialized content accessible, and what paths might they consider in the future? This presentation will explore the systems, standards, and strategies we have, as well as possible directions for further investigation.

Dr. Heather Moulaison Sandy is an associate professor at the iSchool at the University of Missouri, USA, where she studies topics relating to the organization of information in the digital realm, including metadata, social media use, and digital preservation, and has written about these topics and presented on them nationally and internationally; additionally, Dr. Moulaison Sandy is the co-author of two recent books (one on digital preservation, one on cataloging with RDA). She was a recipient of a Fulbright Senior Scholar award in 2008 to teach at the Ecole des sciences de l’information in Morocco, and was an ALA Councilor-at-Large from 2014-2017. Currently, Dr. Moulaison Sandy is a Steering Committee Member at Large, for CIFNAL (Collaborative Initiative for French Language Collections), Center for Research Libraries, Global Resources Network. Dr. Moulaison Sandy earned a doctorate at Rutgers University, an MSLIS from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and a masters in interdisciplinary French studies, also from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.


Jennifer DandleAccessibility is Good for Everyone: Enhancing Discoverability with Accessible Content

Abstract: This session will illustrate strategies for developing accessible content, and relate the connections between accessibility, usability, and search engine optimization (SEO). Techniques shared will include: creating well-formed hyperlinks, using plain (natural) language, and consideration of user traits such as reading level.

Jennifer Dandle is Web Manager at UC San Diego Library. She has been working for a more accessible web since 2005. Advocacy and education have been a common theme throughout the last few years, where she has given numerous talks to a variety of audiences, from high-level management, to content contributors and web developers. Improving accessibility is a small part of the work Jenn does as web manager at the UC San Diego Library. She recently led the Library through a full-scale website redesign project which delivered new information architecture, transition to modern templates, and a new home page, taking a year and a half to complete. When she’s not working for a better web for everyone, she’s on the hunt for new music or places to skate.


Facilitated Roundtable discussions

1:00 - 1:45 p.m.


Connecting the Dots: Collaborating to Create Integrated Local Collections

1:45 - 2:30 p.m.

Jordan FieldsAbstract: The preservation and access of local unique collections is central to the mission of many libraries. Whether these collections include graduate theses, historic photographs, data sets, recordings of local bands, or any other type of content, libraries are tasked with making sure users can find these treasures and keep them safe.

The Marmot Digital Archive was started by a dozen academic and public libraries in Colorado with the goal of meeting those needs and harnessing the power of partnerships to build something greater than any library could do individually. By leveraging shared geographic regions, a shared discovery layer, and linked data, the Marmot Digital Archive is providing access to local digital collections within the library catalog without the messiness of federated search. With shared unique entities (records for significant people, places, events, and organizations), content from separate institutions related to the same topic is seamlessly tied together with additional contextual information.

This presentation will focus on the nitty-gritty of how the Archive came about and how it is currently managed including developing shared metadata standards, agreeing on shared software development specifications for discovery, deciding where to make allowances for local practices and customizations, and priorities regarding preservation decisions.

The Marmot Digital Archive is the 2017 recipient of the Project of the Year award from the Colorado Association of Libraries.

Jordan Fields is the Product Owner for the Pika discovery layer and manager of the digital archive at the Marmot Library Network, a nonprofit library technology consortium in Colorado. She has previously worked in library technology and digital repositories for Garfield County Libraries in Colorado and the Kansas City Public Library in Missouri. Jordan holds an MSLIS and CAS in Digital Libraries from Syracuse University and a BA in Comparative Literature from Indiana University. She currently sits on the Islandora Coordinating Committee and the Islandora Board of Directors. Jordan has previously served on the ALA Committee on Education and as a member of the ALCTS Continuing Education Committee (Chair of Web Course Subcommittee).



2:45 - 3:30 p.m.

Laura WoodClosing Speaker

Crossing State Lines: Enabling Sharing of Accessible Content

Abstract: Significant effort to make course materials accessible occurs at an institutional level, requiring massive duplication of effort. With support from an IMLS planning grant, the stage is set to enable sharing through repository services. There are important roles that libraries can take in partnership with Disability Resources and Services at virtually any college or university that bring the expertise of each together for the good of the growing population of students with disabilities. This session will provide key findings of the project and updates on future steps. Full project white paper is online: Libraries: Take AIM! Accessible Instructional Materials and Higher Education.

Laura C. Wood is the Associate University Librarian for Research and Education at Harvard Library. She previously served as director of Tisch Library at Tufts University and the Andover-Harvard Theological Library at Harvard Divinity School. She serves as the President of the Board of Directors of DuraSpace, and has held leadership roles in  the Boston Library Consortium, the Eastern Academic Scholars Trust (EAST), and the American Theological Library Association (ATLA). She earned her AB at Mount Holyoke College and holds masters degrees from Yale University (MA in Religion), University of Michigan (MS in Information), and Emory University (MBA).


Registration Grants

ALCTS is pleased to offer registration grants for the 2018 Midwinter Symposium for library school students and library support staff. Applications are due by 5pm Central on Friday, October 27, 2017. Visit the ALA Midwinter Meeting web site for more details on ALA Midwinter 2018.


For more information or help with registration, please contact Megan Dougherty, ALCTS Program Officer, Continuing Education, at mdougherty@ala.org.