This is the second blog post in a series authored by individuals who received scholarships to attend the 2017 Science Boot Camp held at the University of Massachusetts – Amherst on June 14-16, 2017. Please watch for more posts about this event and from scholarship recipients in the upcoming weeks. Read the first post here.
I attended this year’s Science Boot Camp for Librarians as a paraprofessional scholarship winner. This is actually the fourth year I have attended boot camp. This year, I was attending the conference as a paraprofessional just prior to beginning a full-time librarian position. Receiving this scholarship was valuable as it allowed me my to continue my development as a new library professional, and in particular, maintain contact with colleagues from the New England region I have met at previous Boot Camps. I also wanted to connect with my mentor and other librarians to get advice as I enter the next phase of my career.
The UMass Amherst campus is beautiful and there are many changes from when I was an undergraduate there. Prior to the start of Boot Camp, I went on a tour of the greenhouses offered to our group. We saw lots of beautiful plants, a few resident critters, and heard about the goals of the greenhouse staff in maintaining their “library” of plants and their efforts in making the greenhouses more thematic and interesting for visitors.
This year’s educational sessions were on the topics of Math and Statistics, Geosciences, and Biomedical Research. Each of the sessions included a speaker who gave an overview of the field, and a second speaker who talked about their research and more in-depth concepts. I am amazed each year that the planning committee is able to select dynamic, friendly, and interesting speakers. Many of them have won teaching awards for their skills in communicating their fields to students, and this is clear in the way they spoke to us as well. Additionally, the speakers make an effort to discuss how librarians can help them in their work, and share resources we might find useful.
One of the most interesting talks for me was our after-dinner speaker on sustainability at UMass Dining Services. We learned how the school has created an award-winning dining program and has committed to sourcing local and sustainable foods on a larger scale while serving over 50,000 meals per day.
The final morning’s capstone session on Scholarly Communication provided insight into the typical work done by that department at UMass. A panel discussion was followed by breakout sessions on related areas, such as Open Educational Resources, where the librarian speakers and the conference attendees shared stories about issues they may have encountered or new developments in their field.
One of the best reasons to attend Science Boot Camp is the ample opportunity to connect with mentors and other librarians from our region, many of whom you will see at other events if you stay in New England, but also to meet others from around the country who decide to come attend. I was starting a new professional librarian job the week after Boot Camp, and was serendipitously matched with a mentor from my new institution. She made a great effort to connect with me and answer my questions about transitioning from a paraprofessional to professional librarian.
In addition to the networking, Boot Camp fosters friendships and social communication. I saw many people making a point of connecting with others, and making sure that no one was sitting alone at meals. The opportunity to meet librarians from a wide variety of science libraries is amazing. I dined with librarians from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute and NOAA, among many others! Discussing the types of work we all do, in addition to sharing personal stories about travel, pets, and family, creates a connection that persists yearly among returning campers and is also welcoming to newcomers. I encourage anyone in New England or beyond to attend, including library school students!
— Jennifer Chaput —
For more about this Science Bootcamp or upcoming event, please visit this year’s website, or contact anyone in the NNLM NER office.