In the late 19th century, the director of the Surgeon General's Library (now the National Library of Medicine), made the suggestion to a census employee that there "ought to be a machine for doing the purely mechanical work of tabulation and similar statistics". The employee's name was Herman Hollerith, and his invention for reading punch cards would become the first centerpiece of the IBM empire and a fundamental building block of the computer revolution.
Libraries have continued to be closely involved with evolving technologies and were among the first organizations to utilize the Internet and the World Wide Web. The electronic successors to Hollerith's invention have changed the lives of the communities libraries serve, both in terms of service delivery and in the sense of library users' expectations, and since the explosion of the Web, libraries have been scrambling to define new strategies for taking advantage of the opportunities that the Web, and Web-fueled technologies, have to offer.
To assist libraries trying to navigate through a seemingly endless sea of technology, the Access conferences attempt to bring together the best of the current and potential applications of technology for the library community.