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Access Lab 2021


Thriving in the (un)usual. Creativity. Agility. Pace

16-17 March 2021, 13:00 – 17:00 BST


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.  

Participating online 

This year’s pandemic meant that we needed to move Access Lab online, attracting a larger audience from many parts of the world. We’ve made the decision to keep Access Lab online in 2021 to enable more participation internationally and to avoid any of the challenges Covid-19 continues to throw our way.

Visit our Access Lab 2020 resource hub

Previous conference participants said how much they enjoyed the range of content and sessions and the valuable connections they made through networking. 

“I think OpenAthens conference is a really unique event where librarians, like me, get to meet with publishers etc. in a non-sales first environment. Really enjoyed, thanks for organising.” 

Call for speakers

How to submit 

Submit your entry by 9 October 2020 using our online form.

Get in touch to discuss your entry:

If you would like to discuss your ideas or have any questions regarding your entry, please contact us.


Your proposal can cover one of these suggested topics: 

Planning for disruption and change

  • Developing creative solutions, agility and pace to adapt to new and unexpected changes. 
  • Strategic planning and budgeting for the unknown.  
  • Investing for growth  

Enabling the future

  • How librarians and publishers need to adapt to enable libraries to remain a vital part of learning and research.
  • Digital empowerment – emerging roles and areas of responsibility
  • Future of identity 

Doing more with less

  • Finding new ways of delivering the same quality experience with reduced budget.
  • Collaborative initiatives between libraries, and between library and publishers. 
  • Licence negotiations based on demand-driven collection development.
  • Flexible pricing models 
  • Demonstrating transparency and impact

Crossing the Digital Divide through collaboration

  • Digital inclusion. Creating an optimal user experience for everyoneEquitable access to devices, connectivity, digital resources and services, learning spaces. 
  • International/ transnational education and research 

Data-driven decisions

  • Evidence-driven decisions to inform strategy 
  • Artificial Intelligence, data and analytics 

Digital ethics

  • Copyright for AI-driven content 
  • Privacy and personalisation 
  • Security of research and other data 
  • Diversity and inclusion 
  • Digital wellbeing 

Need some inspiration? Take a look at  this year’s Access Lab resource hub.

There’s a range of session types to choose from:

All of these sessions will be available to run either in-person or online and you will be asked to select this option when you submit your proposal. 

  • Plenary: 20 minute presentation and 10 minute Q&A 
  • Panel debate: 5 minute pitch per panel speaker, 40 minute Q&A debate 
  • Case studies: 10 minute presentation and 5 minute Q&A 
  • Lightning talks. 5 min thought leadership talks

Access Lab has consistently achieved a very high satisfaction rating over the last few years. Our conference audience were particularly pleased with this year’s online delivery. 

“You were a leader in putting the conference online at an early stage, and making it happen!” 

Submission form


Please use our online submission form for your session abstract.

Conference sessions are intended for librarians and publishers to discuss topics and issues of interest. We regret we will not accept any proposals that are clearly marketing or sales related. 

Biography (50 words)

Session title

Session description (200 words)

Describe how you will interact with and engage your audience (50 words)

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