One Student's Journey To ALA Annual

Rosemarie Maldonado writes: Often said is, "Getting from here to there is the journey and that is more important than the destination." While I am no sage, I will tell you a few of my experiences on my journey with research at UB and at the ALA Annual Conference 2005 last month in Chicago, Illinois in which I co-presented a research paper as a University at Buffalo The State University of New York MLS student. I've included som tips if you are thinking about doing a special project, and some tips if you are thinking about going to a conference.

The MT (ASCP) after my name
is because I am a medical technologist, registered and licensed by the American
Society for Clinical Pathology since 1980. Having previously worked in clinical
chemistry Protein lab, industrial, research and veterinary labs, it was because
of my interest in Science that I first approached UB Science and Engineering
Librarian, Mr. Fred Stoss about a special project that I might undertake in the
Fall of 2004. After some talking with Fred about a research project he wanted to
do on the bibliometrics of Proteomics (quantifying the core journal literature
in a new field of protein analysis), our first meeting was at a diner.  It went
well as he presented the research idea to me and what I would be doing
independently but with his guidance. The special project that I did with Fred
used the SciFinder Scholar database to refine and analyze citation sets from
searches of the terms “proteome� and “proteomics�. The database also made
histograms (bar graphs) of our citation sets. This information was very useful
because Proteomics has only started to become a discipline, the first article
that used the word “proteome� is only from 1995, and we were able to quantify
where the core journal literature lies. The journal literature literally takes
off exponentially in 1995 and is trending towards a more tightly clustering of
articles in a core of “Proteomics journals�. This is very useful for a librarian
that needs to know what journals need to be bought to in order to support
proteomics research at their institution.

I learned a lot more during
this special project than just how to use the SciFinder Scholar database. It was
certainly about how to use this database to generate research data but also it
was about how to work independently under supervision, when and how to ask for
help and keeping organized, so I knew what data I had accumulated and how I
would proceed when I still needed to get more information.  The final paper was
then written in  a Word document with excel graphs of the data and given to my
faculty advisor along with separate comments from Fred about how I completed my
special project.

Undertaking a special
project was a great experience and it led to a co-presentation of the final
paper with Fred Stoss at the ALA Annual Conference 2005 in Chicago

on June 26 to the Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL)/ Science &
Technology Section (STS) Research Forum. Fred and I wrote an abstract of our
paper and sent it to the STS of ACRL, where the research committee picked two
papers for the ALA 2005 Conference’s Research Forum. After we presented our
PowerPoint slides, a doctoral student employed at California Institute of
Technology presented his paper and the guest responder to both presentations was
Dr. Julie Hurd, University of Illinois
at Chicago and Editor of Science and Technology Libraries.  It really was
an honor to be presenting at the ALA
conference to the STS and have Dr. Hurd comment on our paper. She said it was
good for publication and gave us a few ideas to make it better. We will be
developing a manuscript for publication and will submit it to the journal
Science.

If you go to a major
conference, it is a great thing to do but be aware that it is huge! Look at the
programs you want to go to before the conference and be prepared to have a few
alternatives. Besides the large amount of programs at the 2005 ALA Conference,
there were over 400 vendors to see, book signings, the ALA bookstore, free
give-aways and more. Because I was there only one day, I was able to go to one
program, see the vendors and had my resume reviewed at the

McCormick
Convention Center. I was also able to meet librarians and even one professor
that asked me to say "hello" to a DLIS professor at the University at Buffalo! I loved the ALA conference and drove by
myself to Chicago to co-present… and I would do it again! 

Here are
some tips if you are thinking about doing a special project:

Get in contact
with the person that will be supervising you at least a semester preferably two
before you do the project hat way there is plenty of time for initial meetings
with your supervisor and getting the paperwork and signatures filed that you
need. Keep a notebook of your meetings
and a three ring binder of all your research. If you have a question, ask your
supervisor, so you can proceed on track and not waste time.

Here are some tips if you
are thinking about going to a conference:

If

you are presenting or just
going to a conference, the GSA of your university or college could have
conference funding money for you. At UB, I received $250
as an MLS student. Get your airplane tickets,
motel or hotel reservations conference registration etc. way ahead of time. 
Plan what programs you want to attend and do see at least some of the vendors.
Plan on wearing soft comfortable shoes and bring a big bag or a backpack. Plan on having fun!

I wish you a happy journey
through the Library School and I hope you get to attend a major conference and
present something that is of interest to you. It can be a poster session or
original research but it will be an educational and memorable stop on your
journey as a professional librarian. 

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