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Report on the First Science Bootcamp for Librarians in the West!

by Marcia Henry, MS, MA
Health Sciences Librarian
California State University, Northridge
Northridge, CA

I had the pleasure of attending, along with about 120 other librarians from all over the United States, the first Science Bootcamp for Librarians in the West, a three-day event held at the University of Colorado, Boulder, June 19-21, 2013. Six research scientists and two librarians from the University of Colorado spoke to an attentive audience about the key concepts in Physics, Environmental Sciences, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), and Bioinformatics, plus a fascinating research data management workshop designed and led by Megan Bresnahan, Science and Engineering Librarian, and Andrew Johnson, Research Data and Metadata Librarian. This interactive session illustrated various ways librarians can assist researchers in preserving and managing research data. To review a list of the speakers, their recommended readings, most of the slide presentations, and later this summer, videos of the presentations, visit the conference website.

Picture with Check-In Stand in front of Sewall Hall in the University of Colorado

For me, the highlights of the conference were the BioInformatics researchers who naturally mentioned the important services librarians have been offering, along with very thought-provoking and entertaining stories of their research and outreach programs! I was quite interested to hear the presentation by Professor Robin Dowell on “Understanding Your Genome.” She described the vast amounts of data she is continually collecting, and how difficult it is to look for consistent patterns in the data. Another challenge for her was going out to talk to families of Down Syndrome children, who are always seeking answers to their child’s future.

Professor Robin Dowell presenting at the Science Boot Camp

One of the most pleasant and stimulating events was the first night’s evening program, a panel discussion on Women in Science. Three women scientists, representing Physics, Physiological Psychology, and Counseling, each gave their views of the special challenges women face in fields where men have traditionally found more advancement opportunities. Statistics reveal that women scientists, who are mothers, are less likely to write as many papers and/or grants than their male counterparts.

As we arrived at the conference to check in, we were greeted by the welcome sign at the entrance to Seewall Hall on the university campus, which provided a beautiful setting with stone buildings from another era. I met a lot of interesting people at this conference, enjoyed the Rare Book Exhibit entitled Systematic Wonder: Science Observed through Rare, Historic & Artistic Works, and I found the highlights tour of the university’s Natural History Museum well worth the fifteen-minute walk to the other end of campus. The food was well prepared and had lots of variety; the surrounding mountains added to the idyllic atmosphere, and minimized the impact of campus construction projects creating detours as attendees walked to the various destinations. The greetings and attention from the organizing librarians made everyone feel very welcome.

I advise you to check and recheck the conference website to view the “live” programs. I highly recommend considering attending any future conferences in person to enjoy the locale, the hospitality, and the networking opportunities. It’s quite possible we will see more Science Boot Camps in the West!

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