This is the eighth blog post in a series authored by twelve individuals who received scholarships to attend the 2018 Science Boot Camp held at Brandeis University on June 13-15, 2018. In this installment, describes science boot camp as a networking event. Please watch for more posts about resources from this event and views from scholarship recipients in the upcoming weeks.
New England Science Boot Camp for Librarians 2018 Blog Post
Abigail Cahill, Science Librarian, Williams College
The drive from Williamstown to Waltham is stunning: leaving the mountains feels like emerging from one world into another, larger one, and sets the stage perfectly for a completely new and immersive experience. The New England Science Boot Camp, which was held at Brandeis University June 13-15, was that and more. This year’s themes were ecology, genetic engineering, and materials science, and featured researchers from Brandeis as well as the region.
Brandeis is a singularly beautiful campus, and we got to see and enjoy a lot of it as we walked from the dorm to meals at the Faculty Club to the lectures. Walking with some new friends and colleagues, we enjoyed a magical view of the Boston skyline at night from the top of a hill. The dorm was quite comfortable (although I hadn’t expected to relive my years of living in a hiked-up dorm bed – but it made me feel all the more prepared to go to class), and the sound-proofing was downright impressive: the noise from the fairly busy street outside my window never reached me through the glass. (My thanks to the materials scientists who made that happen!)
I’ve only attended two boot camps thus far, including this one, but it’s clear why New England’s is the model and the standard others hope to achieve. The organization of lectures, preceding scientists’ presentations of their research with more overarching dioramas of different disciplines, allows those of us who lack subject expertise to gain a basic grasp of the history of a field, the vocabulary used in it, and the methodologies and values that guide its researchers, as well as current and future directions in research. This foundation was critical for not only our appreciation of the often more technical and in-the-weeds research presentations that followed, but for our ability to return to our jobs better prepared to help researchers at all levels in those fields: I haven’t had time (yet) in my career to study ecology, genetic engineering, and/or materials science, but all of these touch in some way on what my patrons are doing. Understanding the language of different disciplines, and recognizing commonalities and differences across research techniques, helps us communicate more effectively and more with our patrons. I’m excited to share my new knowledge of people, programs, and resources with my liaison departments and colleagues.
I was particularly fortunate to benefit from two official mentors at NESBC: my official mentor could only come for one day, so for the rest of boot camp I got to learn from a librarian mentor whose mentee had been unable to make it. From my mentors, I learned about completely different areas of librarianship, different from mine and from each of theirs: school librarianship, medical librarianship, copyright and metadata, and about how my field (academic and science librarianship) has changed in recent times. However, nobody was at a shortage for mentors at boot camp: any and all questions were met warmly and with an immediate offer of at least several answers which complemented each other. Mealtimes and leisure time were valuable opportunities to meet new people and learn about their interests, their careers, and of course their pets.
Like the quality of the planning and lectures, the scholarship program at the New England Science Boot Camp helps to set this boot camp apart. I feel incredibly fortunate to have been a beneficiary of this program, and of the combined wisdom and kindness of so many professionals in my field. I am already eager to hear when and where boot camp will be next year; it has another enthusiastic attendee!
I hope you enjoy the latest installment of the Science Boot Camp for librarians. To read the first post please click here. For more about this year’s Science Boot Camp resources or other upcoming events, please visit the NNLM NER website, or contact anyone in the NNLM NER office.