What Drives Kristen Cooper

To integrate library services into the scientific process?

By Jon Jeffryes

Kristen Cooper
Kristen Cooper

Kristen Cooper, Plant Sciences Librarian, finds inspiration in the interplay between truth and knowledge. She sees those values every day in her work at the University of Minnesota Libraries, partnering with researchers and students on the St. Paul campus.

“They are looking for truth in their particular fields to expand their knowledge about the world,” Cooper says, “to expand it and share it with their colleagues as well as the broader world.”

Cooper plays an integral role in moving that work forward: “I connect my patrons to the information that they need to continue their search.”  

Making that connection takes the shape of advising on literature reviews, facilitating access to the information researchers need, and teaching classes.

‘For the longest time I thought I would be a scientist’

Cooper is relatively new to librarianship. She started at Magrath Library about two years ago — her first job after earning her master’s degree in Library and Information Science. She comes to the position with a strong grounding in the biological sciences, having earned a bachelor’s degree in marine biology.

“For the longest time I thought I would be a scientist myself,” Cooper says, “and I really love that as a science librarian I still get to play a role in the scientific process.”

Cooper leverages that science background in her work with the Agronomy & Plant Genetics, Plant Biology, and Plant Pathology departments.

“Having that familiarity and comfort with science and how the process works —  I think can be really helpful.” Cooper says.

2017 P&A Award of Excellence

The Plant Pathology department agrees. In just her second year at the Libraries, they presented her with the 2017 Professional and Academic (P&A) Award of Excellence.

In writing about the award the department described Cooper’s contribution to their work: “She is essential to the departmental mission in teaching and research.”

The Plant Pathology post also calls out Cooper’s proactive approach to connecting with researchers through “unparalleled library presence in Borlaug Hall,” being present in their workspace and holding office hours in the Borlaug Commons.

Cooper identifies her networking skills as an area of strength. She enjoys meeting with researchers and connecting them to the benefits the Libraries can bring to their work.

Cooper also models this strength in communication skills to benefit the students with whom she works. Last year she developed a workshop on presentation skills and has subsequently worked with graduate students to provide feedback while they rehearse presentations. Cooper assists students and learns more about their research interests.

Cooper’s passion for science extends to her hobbies outside the library. She’s a fan of science fiction and fantasy and enjoys attending genre conventions and participating in cosplay — costumed role playing. She’s currently learning to sew in order to create her own costumes. She also enjoys graphic novels and comic books.

Researching Researchers

As an academic librarian, Cooper has an active schedule of her own original research, which also seeks truth and expands the world of knowledge.

Cooper was recently accepted into the Institute for Research Design in Librarianship. After spending a week of intensive training on research methodologies, Cooper is preparing to launch a research project. The goals of her project are to expand her knowledge of data sharing behaviors and practices among the researchers in her assigned departments.

Cooper’s passion for truth and knowledge inspires the deep engagement and proactive outreach she brings to plant science researchers every day.

“I really enjoy being a science librarian and having the ability to be to play a role in the sharing of scientific knowledge.”

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