Thursday, January 24, 2013

Get ready! Science Bootcamp for Librarians 2013

Science Boot Camp for Librarians is an annual two-and-a-half-day educational event offering librarians an opportunity to learn about science, and the 2013 dates are here!  Mark your calendars for June 12-14, 2013. 

TMCL librarian Maianh attended the boot camp in 2012 (which included an eScience capstone), and recounts her experience below:

This summer, I received funding from the NN/LM SCR  to attend Science Boot Camp for Librarians at Tufts University—a two and a half day educational event that is organized and sponsored by a number of New England libraries and their great librarians.  The structure of the camp is set up like so:

Three science topics are featured at each Science Boot Camp. Each of these topics is presented at a half-day session by New England scientists: one scientist presents an overview of a science and another presents current research work within the field. These science sessions help to provide librarians with context and terminologies of science disciplines that will enable them to better engage with their faculty to provide research services. Boot Camp Capstone sessions feature issues related to science librarianship, including e-Science, current projects, and emerging roles for science librarians (

Although I had two whirlwind days that focused on the three subject areas of neuroscience, organic chemistry, and data visualization (an admittedly overwhelming experience for a librarian with an English Literature background), I wanted to focus this entry on my observations and experience with the eScience Capstone session that completed the boot camp. 

After opening remarks and a primer on eScience, the Capstone session featured a panel of New England librarians who shared their experiences at the ARL/DFL eScience Institute.  The AFL/DFL eScience Institute is designed to help academic and research libraries develop a strategic agenda for e-research support, with a particular focus on the sciences (  I thought that this panel was of great value because it featured librarians asserting the need and importance of getting involved with eScience while also relaying the practical knowledge necessary to do so.  This practical knowledge included discussion about how librarians can help eScience initiatives with the skills they already have, how to draft an eScience initiative proposal, and following a template for an eScience strategic agenda.

One discussion section of the panel’s presentation especially stood out to me—“Can libraries afford to [get involved]?”  So, what was the answer?  “Libraries can’t afford not to.”  Some of the reasons given to support the role of libraries in eScience included the assertions that libraries are:
  • Centrally located in academic communities (i.e. no issue of “turf wars”)
  • Well-respected
  • Often already working with archival data and preservation
  • Dedicated to service
This last point brought up some interesting arguments for eScience participation—the idea that it is a service opportunity who if no one is doing now, someone will in the future.  If we don’t, we will “secede ownership to someone who will.”  This idea that libraries should insert themselves and take on this role now really demonstrated to me how librarians are fighting the idea of the “dying” library by innovating and expanding what libraries and librarians can do. 

The panel was followed by a presentation by Dr. Terry Plum, assistant dean of Simmons GSLIS West, about the education of the eScience librarian that discussed how to train librarians to get the type of jobs we’re setting up for.  The last Capstone component was a group discussion about how to prepare libraries and librarians to support eScience.

The organizers of Science Boot Camp declare on their site that the “casual ambience of Science Boot Camp promotes learning and camaraderie among librarians from New England and beyond”, and I found this to be particularly true.  This boot camp was my first experience attending an out of state library event, and I felt welcomed and encouraged by my colleagues.  I highly recommend checking out Science Boot Camp for the science (and non-science) librarian. 

Keep up-to-date with Science Boot Camp for Librarians by visiting their site:

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