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Great success at this year’s British Library event ‘Championing the user’

Jon BentleyBy Jon Bentley
Category - Blog

Tuesday 3rd April 2018

This year’s fantastic event showcased user demands and patterns as 140 guests attended the British Library in London for debate on the future of access to online services.

Our sponsors and exhibitors included EBSCO, Chest, Stacks, TDNet, BBC Monitoring, LM Information Delivery and SirsiDynix who attracted great interest throughout the day.

We couldn’t escape Cambridge Analytica and Facebook, as librarians from across the publishing, education, medical and corporate sectors got together to discuss access management challenges including online user data and privacy.

The conference was called ‘Championing the user’ and current and future online users were the key focus of the event.

My own talk, the ‘Authentication landscapes of tomorrow’, one of many on the day, tackled the importance of trust.

I’d downloaded my own Facebook data ahead of the event. It was hilarious. I couldn’t believe the amount of information Facebook had collected on me – who they thought I was compared to who I thought I was. Although at no point had I ever verified my own identity. On a list they had to sum up my interests, so I could be targeted with specific ads, one that stuck out was ‘biscuits’.

Now, I like biscuits just as much as the next person. But I wouldn’t exactly say they were a stand-out interest of mine.

How many of us do you think have amusing products, hobbies or other interests in our Facebook data, that we wouldn’t associate with ourselves? Everyone, it would seem.

We had a welcome address from Mike Brooksbank, chief commercial officer at our parent company Eduserv and an opening keynote speech by William Bowes, director of policy and general counsel at the Publishers Association, who highlighted the need for balance between digital transparency and privacy.

Our main speakers included leading figures from across the publishing, education and research sectors.

This included Don Thibeau, chief executive at non-profit technology standardisation organisation OpenID Foundation.

Don discussed the banking sector, Brexit and whether UK banks will follow EU regulations or look at the American system. He also touched on Facebook’s business decision to go down the proprietary route and pull out of the OpenID Connect project – an identity protocol based on open standards which allows organisations to build user consent and privacy into their systems. We are now seeing the impact of their decision and the impact on the social media giant’s business.

He described trust as an increasingly rare phenomenon in the digital world, saying if you move resources online, you have to sort out identity.

Later on in the day, there was a lively panel discussion on the topic ‘Has federated access management failed the end user?’. This included panelists from across our client board including global information analytics business Elsevier, the University of London and the Torbay & South Devon NHS Foundation Trust, with guests tweeting throughout the session.

The panel session took place before break-out workshops, which included measuring user access, data protection and transforming library experiences.

Leading one of the sessions, Kristina Botyriute, international technical pre-sales at OpenAthens, showcased our research and how it can transform library user experience by easier access and search options.

While Adam Snook, product manager at OpenAthens, reiterated that many libraries are now 100 per cent electronic, with no books, and what the future looked like for online services.

We have been delighted with feedback from the event and the interaction between the variety of guests who attended from many sectors. This level of communication is something we are determined to take forward to ensure the best outcomes for online users.

Libraries are changing, they are evolving. This is about trust between the end user, the library and the publisher.


To view presentations slides or listen to audio recordings of the plenary sessions, visit our
2018 conference webpage.


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