Winning an ACS Publications Travel Grant this year gave me the chance to attend an ACS National Meeting & Exposition for the first time. I have been to a fair number of library-related conferences over the years, including those of local, national, and international associations. What first struck me about the ACS meeting was that it felt much more like a social gathering, a natural coming together of students and professionals. Over the course of the week, as I had the pleasure of speaking with ACS members and staff, there continued to be that emphasis on social relationships.
The environment seemed particularly supportive for students, who were out in large numbers. I heard that Sci-Mix was not to be missed, as students come together for science and free beer for one unforgettable evening. Sci-Mix turned out to be much more than fun and games. It was probably the largest poster session that I have ever seen. I was impressed by all of the students standing by their posters and doing a fantastic job of presenting their research. For many, it was their first time attending a scientific conference, but they demonstrated professionalism along with enthusiasm.
There were a number of other social events scheduled throughout the week, in addition to an extensive exhibit hall. When it came to the technical program, I divided my attention between the ACS Division of Chemical Information (CINF) and Division of Chemical Education (CHED).
CINF was the most welcoming group of information professionals, specialists, and chemists. I came away with practical advice related to different areas of my work, such as chemical information literacy, lab safety, and alternative assessment methods. I have since subscribed to the Chemical Information Sources Discussion List (CHMINF-L).
One of the highlights was the CINF session on the information legacy of Eugene Garfield. As a graduate student, I had pored over his writings and videos, so it was amazing to be able to hear from individuals that worked closely with him. They provided insight into the formation, growth, and success of the Institute for Scientific Information, as well as Eugene Garfield’s vision for the company.
At the CHED presentations, I learned of the different challenges faced by educators to improve motivation, engagement, and undergraduate research. They shared creative solutions and assessment results. I learned strategies that I can apply directly to my teaching, and I have already been thinking more about mindset messaging and peer mentoring. As a librarian, it was particularly useful to see the resources that have made an impact. I appreciated the suggestions for books and other readings that have worked for librarians and science educators.
I also discovered technologies that I can add to my e-learning kit, where I curate resources for online learning environments, learning objects, activities, gaming, and building community. There were some talks dedicated to videos as learning resources for students, replacing or supplementing face-to-face teaching. These included tips and tricks for creating and offering YouTube channels.
ACS Publications had the forethought to offer the travel award to two of us. Being partnered with another librarian alleviated any anxiety that I might have felt leading up to the meeting and greatly enhanced the experience. I couldn’t have been more excited to be paired with Chapel Cowden, someone I had worked with on a committee and chatted with virtually but had never met in person.
I would like to thank ACS Publications for this opportunity, along with ACS Library Relations Manager, Michael Qiu, for taking particular care of Chapel and me. I hope to be there for the annual meeting in Boston, so if you see me, please say hello!
I should mention that New Orleans was a wonderful (the food!) and friendly city. I even came away with a skein of Mardi Gras hand dyed yarn. It will knit up to be one memorable pair of socks.
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