A European Librarian’s View on the 256th ACS National Meeting & Exposition

Lieselot Verryckt is an information specialist at the Central Library of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) in Belgium.

When I heard that ACS Publishing was opening up their travel grant program to librarians from Europe/Middle East/Africa, I was eager to apply. I was even more excited when I received the news that I was selected to attend the 256th ACS National Meeting & Exposition in Boston this past August.

The ACS National Meeting is the biggest conference I have ever been to, and I was impressed by the sheer enormity of it.  As the conference took place in the Boston Convention Center and several hotels, at first it seemed a bit daunting to navigate. Luckily, the ACS app was very helpful in getting me to the right places, and helped me find my way around the broad offering of sessions.

I did not only rely on the app to select sessions; I also followed the recommendations highlighted by C&E Magazine. On Wednesday, following their suggestion, I ended up in the session about pesticides and chemophobia in the news organized by the ACS Division of Agrochemicals. It was my first time following a lecture via headphones, as four talks were delivered simultaneously.

What surprised me about the conference program was the wide spectrum of topics covered. So, on Monday I found myself in a session from the ACS Division of the History of Chemistry about Louis Pasteur’s discovery of molecular chirality. I enjoyed hearing about his relationship with the arts, and how this influenced his scientific career.

I also spent some time visiting the exhibition. I really appreciated the format where short presentations were given on the expo floor. The presentation from NASA about atmospherical chemistry had great visuals and made a lasting impression.

The majority of the sessions I followed were organized by the ACS Division of Chemical Information (CINF). I truly appreciated the program on Tuesday, with sessions about chemistry librarians of the future. This was also the day I was most active on Twitter. These sessions made me reflect on my work and gave me ideas to implement in the near future. I will not easily forget the idea that a librarian should be like an aircraft carrier.

Besides the sessions hosted by CINF, I also attended the plenary opening session and both Kavli Lectures. Professor Harry Atwater’s talk about using light as the fuel that can take us to the stars was marvelous.

Finally, it was wonderful that ACS Publishing invited four librarians in different stages of their career. This gave us the opportunities to exchange experiences and learn from each other. Thank you for your company, Linda, Kelsey, and Alyssa!

I am grateful to ACS Publishing for inviting me to the National Meeting, and to Michael Qiu for being an outstanding host. And I would wholeheartedly recommend librarians involved with chemistry to apply for the next travel grant.

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