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Musings of an Aspiring Science Librarian By Amanda Doughty

Posted by on August 12th, 2019 Posted in: Blog
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This is the third 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, Amanda Doughty, a library student describes 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.


Musings of an Aspiring Science Librarian

By Amanda Doughty

          The 11th Annual Science Boot Camp for Librarians initially seemed like a chance to learn some new information, network a bit and enjoy the beautiful host campus of the University of New Hampshire. The fact that I also was honored to receive a scholarship to attend was an unexpected bonus! I never would have imagined though, the value and immense amount of knowledge, insight and connections I would gain from those few days in Durham, NH.

         I should preface this by stating that I am not (officially) a librarian. I just completed my 1st year as an MLIS student at Simmons University. Truth be told, I think I may have been the only library student attending boot camp this year! However, from the moment I walked on campus and joined the Ocean Engineering Lab tour with other boot campers, I felt a sense of belonging. In fact, that is one of many things that I quickly realized about this profession: Science Librarians are INCLUSIVE. Making others feel safe and comfortable, both in a library or information setting, and in daily living, is at the heart of these librarians and what they do. And this was echoed again and again starting with when I arrived to check-in, my name badge had a space for preferred pronouns. When the first session began, the Librarians Code of Conduct was reviewed. This code included laying out of expected behaviors by attendees, bystander intervention, the reporting process and support information. Additionally, those on the planning committee with blue “Code of Conduct” pins were always open and available to discuss concerns or incidents one might have witnessed or experienced. The topics on Social Justice also echoed the Science Librarians’ obligation and responsibility for inclusion on all fronts. Sofia Lemons demonstrated that social justice is critical in promoting equity, empowering those who have been historically excluded, and dismantling and replacing systems of privilege and oppression. Sofia also specified the means in which artificial intelligence and computers can, in fact, be biased and what one can do to combat this. One of the resources discussed was the Algorithmic Justice League (www.ajlunited.org), which aims to advocate for a world with more inclusive and ethical AI. As Science Librarians, Sofia encouraged all of us to start making changes in our own lives, personally and professionally, and to push for accountability when social justice is lost. Creating and enforcing codes of conduct (such as the one outlined at Boot Camp) are helpful tools for fostering inclusion and change.

         Science Librarians are also immensely SUPPORTIVE. The quantity and variety of patrons in which those in the profession assist is incredible! From students to scholars to communities and more. I was hopeful that this Boot Camp would help pinpoint and shed more light on the everyday tasks of a Science Librarian, but what I quickly learned is that this list would probably be too long to even measure! During the Remote Sensing session, Michael Palace defined remote sensing as the act of looking at things without touching them. Some examples of this would be drones (AKA unpersonned aerial systems) or satellites. With the amount of information created from one of these remote sensing tools, the data flow can be overwhelming. The scientists have a goal for the use of this information, and the science librarian can assist with data storage and sharing (creative commons), as well as DOI (Digital Object Identification). Librarians also aid in finding data sources and help with metadata for the project. In this same Remote Sensing session, Philip Browne and Barry Rock described their trickle-down concept in which data is collected and analyzed using science, which is peer-reviewed to produce information, which is shared with the public (cue the Science Librarian!) to ensure survival, ultimately leading to a sustainable human civilization in a natural world. In addition, this session gave me a bunch of interesting, inspiring and free tools and websites for future use, such as Google Earth Pro (https://www.google.com/earth/versions/#earth-pro), Journeys In Film (https://journeysinfilm.org/), the Wayback Machine (https://archive.org/web/) and the Trillion Trees campaign (https://www.trilliontreecampaign.org/).

         One of my favorite parts of the boot camp was the second Social Justice session presented by Elena Long. This session was very hands on and proved to me another characteristic of science librarians: They are INGENIOUS! The very definition of such a person is to be clever, original, and inventive, and that is exactly what was challenged of us. Elena was needing our help addressing the publication name change dilemma. As it stands now, there is no great answer to update a person’s name once something has been published. There is no way to easily change an author’s published name without referencing a past one. The issue is particularly challenging for transgender people who have transitioned, because linking to a previous name may leave that person at risk for exclusion by others. As a group, we did come up with some ideas. The first of which involves using ORCID (www.orcid.org) to publish everything in the future, in which case the author is assigned a unique number and not a name at all. The second really involves establishing a culture change – connecting, organizing and advocating for change. The hope is if we, as science librarians, can be accepting and inclusive of everyone, this will have a ripple effect and impact others around us. When that day comes, the publication name change will not even be an issue!

         At the end of my few days of the Boot Camp, I was exhausted mentally and emotionally from all I had learned and everyone I met in such a short period of time. Now that I have had the chance to reflect on my experience, I am even more inspired to become an inclusive, supportive, and ingenious Science Librarian myself! I am so thankful to have had this opportunity and look forward to becoming a part of this amazing community.


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
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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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