Things I need to learn

Multidendritic sensory neurons from Flickr user Balapagos
Multidendritic sensory neurons illustrating Green Fluorescent Protein from Flickr user Balapagos

Sometimes I feel as though I need to know about everything.  When I teach an information literacy session, I feel ill-prepared if I don’t know about the topic of the class.  As a result, I have learned a little bit about a lot of things over the past couple of years:

  • Green fluorescent protein
  • Markovnikov reactions
  • Epigenetics
  • siRNA and miRNA
  • North American trees
  • Synoptic climatology
  • The evolution of snake fangs
  • Trematode parasites

The nature of my job requires me to learn a little bit about all of these topics so that I can help students find the relevant literature.

Unfortunately, I’m only human, and I still get lost in many things that are outside of my geology background.

Fortunately, I know enough about the literature and scholarly communication of these subjects to help students with what I need to help them with.  I can lead them into the world of scholarly communication in its various forms that they are just discovering.  At the same time their professors are leading them into the world of their disciplines.

When the partnership between faculty and librarians works well, it can be incredibly powerful.  Students can learn to explore the record of the scientific enterprise while learning enough about the discipline to understand what they find.