Exploring a Community of Practice at the ACS Fall 2019 National Meeting - ACS Axial
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Exploring a Community of Practice at the ACS Fall 2019 National Meeting

Alexa Carter is a Research Librarian for the Physical Science and Graduate Services at North Carolina State University Libraries in Raleigh, NC. She received a travel grant from ACS Publications to attend the Fall 2019 ACS Meeting and Exposition in San Diego.

As a first-time attendee to an ACS National Meeting event, I was completely astounded by the diversity of chemical professionals in attendance. From upcoming chemical researchers and students to tenured professors and field chemists, I found myself interfacing and learning from researchers on a variety of topics. I am very appreciative of ACS Publications for awarding me one of this year’s Librarian Travel Grants to attend the ACS Fall 2019 National Meeting & Exposition in San Diego. The event was very informative and stimulating, with sessions and presentations focused on science communication, mentorship of chemical researchers, data visualization, and more.

The ACS Fall 2019 National Meeting featured a multitude of opportunities to hear from chemists about their research or other chemistry-related topics, including workshops, training sessions, and over 12,000 oral and poster presentations. I found the ACS mobile app especially helpful for navigating all of the sessions and events that were sponsored by a variety of divisions within ACS. Many of the sessions were sorted into divisional tracks, making it easier for the 15,000+ attendees from around the world to select sessions based on their divisional focus and interface with researchers with similar interests. While I mainly attended the sessions hosted by the Division of Chemical Information (CINF) and Division of Chemical Education (CHED), dabbling in the content presented by other divisions was highly encouraged.

One of my favorite sessions from the meeting was hosted by CINF and focused on the importance of mentoring and student success within chemistry. As a science librarian passionate about STEM education and assessment, I was delighted to gain a better understanding of how professors and institutions are coordinating and assessing their student success initiatives. While there can often be a disconnect between the essential skills that chemistry students develop and those that they are expected to develop for future careers, it was encouraging to hear about how practitioners and educators are empowering students to fill this skills gap. Many of the conversations around this theme continued into other sessions and keynote presentations, as well. I also attended sessions exploring the creation of digital learning objects and open source tools for chemical researchers that were quite thought-provoking.

As an early-career librarian, I found the ACS Fall 2019 National Meeting to be the ideal place for me to learn more about supporting researchers through science librarianship and would recommend other librarians supporting chemists to consider attending a future meeting. It provided the perfect opportunity to converse with other chemistry professionals about building resources and programming in libraries that effectively support researchers’ needs. I enjoyed networking with other science librarians and information professionals at many of the events hosted by the CINF division, including the Skolnik Award Reception, and felt welcomed by many of the CINF representatives throughout the meeting. One of the largest events at the meeting, the Sci-Mix Interdivisional Poster Session, was especially enjoyable to explore as it featured researchers from all of the ACS divisions. This event also included the bi-annual 10-pound chocolate bar raffle from the Chemistry and the Law Division as well as other opportunities to get involved with the ACS divisions.

Overall, attending the ACS Fall 2019 National Meeting & Exposition proved to be an exceptional experience. I thoroughly enjoyed exploring the oral and poster presentations with my fellow grant recipients, starting new conversations about supporting chemical researchers, and learning from the general ACS researcher community. I am eager to share and apply my new knowledge from this meeting in my role as a librarian and look forward to contributing to this scientific community of practice in the future.

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