A Librarian’s Perspective on the AAAS (American ASSOCIATION for the Advancement of Science) Conference
In February 2010, I had the pleasure of attending the 2010 Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. At the outset, let me state that while the event took place in San Diego in February, it should not be interpreted that the sole reason this librarian attended was to get to warmer climes and re-energize.
I viewed this conference as an opportunity to experience the presentations and dialogues of scientists firsthand. Of particular interest to me were the various symposia and topical lectures in subjects that fell under my professional practice responsibility areas here at Taylor. The ultimate goal of my attendance was to increase my subject knowledge base in a number of areas that included translation and personalized medicine, genomics, systems biology, innate immunity, and pharmacogenomics. A bonus of this conference was the opportunity to hear presentations by Nobel Laureates. This year these included Peter Agre (co-recipient 2003 Chemistry) and Carol Greider (co-recipient 2009 Physiology or Medicine).
I quickly spotted several recurring themes during this conference, the first being the importance of collaboration. Whether in the exhibit hall or during presentations, there seemed to be an ongoing interest in both fostering new collaborations and in acknowledging the importance of existing relationships in achieving research goals. The other theme, which is aptly reflected in the conference title “Bridging Science and Society,” was to carefully assess the impact of new scientific discoveries. In short, research outcomes being considered for wider use should be evaluated not only for the benefits to be realized but also for the efficacy and safety of these applications on the environment and society.
Taking stock of what I had seen and heard, my three days at the AAAS conference confirmed what I had originally hoped would happen. I was leaving San Diego with an enriched knowledge base. Not only had I increased my armamentarium of terms, but I had also developed a greater understanding of the relationships of these terms within their disciplines. Librarian attendance at these types of conferences can have direct benefit to users of the library. From this librarian’s perspective, the knowledge gained will inform collections decisions, facilitate liaison with researchers, provide material for library instruction, and enhance research support.
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