How Librarians Advance Chemistry: With ACS Fellow Grace Baysinger

This year the ACS named Stanford Librarian Grace Baysinger as one of the ACS Fellows. The program was created to recognize members of ACS for outstanding achievements in and contributions to science, the profession and the Society. Baysinger is currently the Chemistry and Chemical Engineering Librarian at the Robin Li and Melissa Ma Science Library. She’s won a number of awards over her distinquished career, including the Meritorious Service Award from the Chemical Information Division of the ACS in 2004. In this interview Baysinger to talk about her award, the role librarians play in advancing science, and the connection between scientific socities and librarians.

What does being named an ACS Fellow mean to you?

It is a wonderful surprise.   The show of support makes me feel extremely grateful and thankful. It is a privilege and an honor to be part of a community of talented, creative, and hard-working colleagues, publishers, information providers, and ACS members and staff. My family is also a vital source of support.   This strong network has enabled me to grow professionally and to contribute to the chemistry enterprise.

What can librarians do to help advance chemistry and related sciences?

It is important for librarians to be actively engaged and knowledgeable about creating, publishing, discovering, using, and sharing scientific information. Because chemistry journals have the highest average cost of all subject areas, it is important for librarians to understand economic aspects of publishing and managing collection funds. Librarians understand workflows, services, tools, and skills needed by chemists to navigate the information environment effectively and efficiently. This understanding enables librarians to help users be more productive in their academic careers and better prepared for the workplace.

Because librarians are at the “front lines” helping users translate queries that can be understood by search tools, librarians can use these experiences to lobby information providers about ways to make their interfaces more intuitive and to advocate for more advanced search methods when they are needed. Librarians also have insights about metadata and access points needed to search large and complex chemistry databases.

Machine-to-machine communication using application programming interfaces (APIs) along with artificial intelligence (AI) software is growing.   Librarians can play a role in this evolving environment to ensure that content, search fields, and display formats available will meet users’ needs. They also can play a role to help ensure that license agreements balance and protect intellectual property rights of all parties. Helping users learn about best practices for managing and sharing data and for using persistent identifiers such as ORCIDs will help facilitate this transition to more automated retrieval and mashups of chemistry and related scientific information.

How do scientific societies contribute to librarianship?

Scientific societies offer the potential for deep and meaningful conversations on a broad array of topics. The mission of societies is to support professional needs, to create a sustainable and thriving environment for sharing research and ideas, networking with colleagues, and providing publications for the profession. Society publisher advisory groups exchange information about developments, opportunities, and challenges, enabling societies and librarians to understand each other better, and to help prioritize and anticipate changes.

Societies dedicate significant resources to producing high quality publications and indexing tools. Those society resources are essential to the scientific community. Learning more about content published by the society and its associated services, access and archiving policies, and pricing models contributes to a librarian’s knowledgebase.  Policies and practices on ethics, copyright, and scholarly communication are additional ways societies help librarians gain a deeper knowledge about the publishing environment. Societies such as ACS, provide travel funds for new librarian professionals, support for technical symposium, and financial support for social events. Being able to attend conferences with presentations given by leading researchers is educational and inspirational for librarians.

What advice would you give to an aspiring scientific librarian?

It is an exciting time to be a science librarian.   Learn about the people you will be supporting. Listen to their needs and try to deliver when possible. Experiment, iterate, and improve rather than trying to do something perfectly the first time. Collaborate and partner, leveraging the expertise of the team rather than going it alone. Network with people older and younger than you, as both groups have valuable insights to offer. Build deep knowledge about content created to support your primary clientele.  Focus on data compiled and retrieval methods instead of just learning discovery interfaces. Work with leaders and team members to build, deliver, and manage collections and services. Strive for work-life balance and take time to enjoy life, nurture relationships, and rejuvenate.  Follow your passions when looking for the right professional niche. Become active in at least one professional society and attend meetings regularly.

What are your plans for ACS National Meeting in DC?

My schedule includes attending technical sessions, talking with exhibitors, networking with colleagues, and attending committee meetings.  If there is time, I also want to visit the Smithsonian Museum.

 

If you have comments or questions for the author of this post, please e-mail: Axial@acs.org.