I wanted to attend the 253rd ACS National Meeting & Exposition in San Francisco to reconnect with being a chemist who is a librarian, instead of a librarian who helps chemists. Like many science librarians, I end up spreading my energies across many fields and I missed my chemistry focus. The meeting energized me by providing awesome presentations on chemical information and some precious time to process what I had learned.
In addition to the networking, I attended about 30 conference presentations, mostly in the Division of Chemical Information (CINF) but a few from the Division of Chemical Education as well. The volume of possible presentations was daunting and I found myself frequently torn as to where I should go. One highlight was, “Open Access: Current Landscape, Challenges & Future Directions” was a well-curated session that included presentations from publishers on their open access initiatives. Among other speakers, James Milne from ACS spoke about developments for the upcoming ChemRxiv preprint server. I learned a tremendous amount about the current state of open access in chemistry and where the field may be heading.
It wasn’t all open access, however, as there was also a strong session on chemical collection development with several case studies highlighting different strategies librarians have taken to evaluate our purchases in light of increasingly precious budget dollars. Finally, there was a session on authorship and attribution with presentations on ORCID IDs, the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE), and differing views of author credit in different countries.
Beyond the sessions, the show floor had an eclectic mix of vendors, chemistry publishers, and societies. I had a great chat with the representatives from the Wikipedia Foundation who discussed some initiatives for improving the chemical information on Wikipedia. My days as a lab manager are long gone, but I did enjoy seeing the latest and greatest in instrumentation on offer.
I left San Francisco with new colleagues, a tantalizing lead on becoming more involved with a smaller publisher, some potential project collaborations, and a ton of information. I’ve heard that learning in medical school is like trying to drink from a fire hydrant. At the end of each ACS conference day, I felt a bit stunned by the density of information I had just taken in – although it wasn’t medical school, it was a lot. I was honored ACS chose me for this award and humbled by the graciousness of the ACS as a host. Attending the ACS National Meeting let me connect and engage as a librarian with chemistry in a different manner than I am used to and I highly recommended other librarians with chemistry responsibilities try to attend.