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Views of Science Librarianship from the New England Science Boot Camp

Posted by on July 29th, 2019 Posted in: Blog
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This is the second blog post in a series authored by several individuals who received scholarships to attend the and the New England Science Boot Camp for Librarians. In this installment, a scholarship recipient, Jodi Coalter, describes her opportunity to attend the New England Science Boot Camp for Librarians.  For more information about upcoming research data management classes, webinars and events please visit the NNLM Data Driven Discovery Website and the  NNLM NER website.

As an early career librarian, I’m still learning what it means to be a liaison to the sciences. Finding my way through my new job and my new institution has been, if I’m honest, a bit daunting; there are so many aspects to the job that I need to learn, which makes it fun, but also confusing. Thanks to the generosity of the NLM and the New England Science Boot Camp organizers, I was able to attend the 2019 Boot Camp. While there I met with and talked to people who have walked the same road before – people who are excited about science, but also understand (academic) librarianship.

One of the greatest aspects of Boot Camp is the ability to explore how science is studied by researchers in various institutions, and the discussions between librarians about how we can support that research. Librarians get to see into the past, explore what researchers have done before, and help our colleagues push science into the future. We stand with researchers on the bleeding edge of science. This dual perspective means that we are invaluable to our researchers (even if they don’t know it!), and it’s one of the greatest parts of my job. Unique challenges and problems arise from this threshold position between past and present, which makes talking with colleagues in the field even more important.

For example, one of the greatest segments of this year’s Boot Camp was the exploration of social justice in science. This was my first Boot Camp, but from what I understand, the themes that we explored this year was a new feature. And it was one of the best features. Coordinators of the Camp brought together speakers who addressed a specific theme in science and research, which made each segment a deep dive into a topic. The social justice segment explored how LGBTQ folks are coping with a very homogenous science field, the challenges and discrimination they face, and how librarians can help faculty cope with those challenges. It was an amazing glimpse at a unique perspective, and I walked out of that segment with a deeper awareness and a better understanding of the problems LGBTQ folks face. In talking with the presenters and my fellow attendees, we were even able to achieve some basic ideas of how libraries can help our LGBTQ faculty achieve success in academia.

It is so exciting to be a science librarian right now. Scientific discoveries in all fields are being made at breakneck speeds, and science librarianship is moving just as fast. To be a science librarian now means being flexible and creative, almost changing the job description from year to year. To be the most effective librarians, I’m finding that it’s easier to keep up with all these changes if I lean on the knowledge of my colleagues, listen to their problems and solutions, and continue to educate myself on best librarianship practices. Attending Science Boot Camp for Librarians was a vital aspect of that discussion for me – and I look forward to next year’s Camp!

Jodi Coalter
STEM Librarian
University of Maryland, College Park


For more about data science or other upcoming events, please visit the NNLM Data Driven Discovery Website and the  NNLM NER website, or contact anyone in the NNLM NER office.

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NNLM Region 7
University of Massachusetts Chan Medical School
55 Lake Avenue North
Worcester, MA 01655
(508) 856-5985

This has been funded in whole or in part with Federal funds from the Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, National Library of Medicine, under cooperative agreement number UG4LM012347 with the University of Massachusetts Chan Medical School.

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