Science and Engineering Librarian
Rodgers Library, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa
PhD, Chemistry, Colorado State University,
Fort Collins, 2012
His photo of a molecule model created in the 3-D printing studio was selected as the cover of the Royal Society of Chemistry’s 2014 Library Publishing Catalog
Photo © 2014 The University
of Alabama Photography
Connecting the Library
with the Lab
University of Alabama (UA) science and engineering librarian Vincent Scalfani found his way to the library via the lab. As a chemistry grad student, Scalfani was an avid researcher who lived by the motto that “an hour in the library is worth a month in the laboratory.” His love of the research end of the scientific process drew him to a career in librarianship, in which, he says, he knew he would “be immersed in the research process, research data, and scientific literature and have the opportunity to teach others how the library is a crucial component and partner in their research.”
Scalfani has made a name for himself as the leader of the 3-D printing studio at UA libraries, where he has brought a laboratory sensibility to the studio’s training regimen. “I did not want to simply have the library print objects for students; I wanted the library to teach students how to print objects themselves,” says Scalfani. “This allows students to learn from experimentation—and learn…that it is okay to try something and fail.”
The success of the studio has generated numerous opportunities for the library to collaborate with researchers at UA on creating 3-D models for use in their classrooms, says chemistry professor and nominator Paul Rupar. One example is a 3-D library of molecular structures to help students visualize and understand complex molecules. Scalfani has taught several hundred students, faculty, and staff from 20 different departments to use the studio, says Rupar.
Scalfani’s outreach to help UA’s aspiring scientists hone their skills includes designing and teaching the Literature and Communication in Graduate Chemistry course, now required for all UA chemistry grad students.