Barbara Fister

I'm a librarian who works at a liberal arts college in a rural corner of Minnesota where I write blog posts, articles, grocery lists, Tweets, and sometimes fiction.


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The content of the Library Babel Fish blog is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 (CC-BY-4.0) License. I'm grateful to Inside Higher Ed for being so open-minded and progressive about these things. Feel free to share, reuse, and remix.

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Most Recent Articles

September 24, 2010
The publishing industry should give two individuals awards for doing as much as Oprah to promote books: Jon Stewart and Joshua Kim. Stewart not only talks about several serious books a week on The Daily Show, he even gives the impression he's read them. Joshua Kim reads so much he puts this librarian to shame, but I love the fact that he shares his enthusiasm for books and regularly asks what we're reading - and my to-be-read list keeps growing as a result.
September 17, 2010
It has been so long since I posted here, you may think the Babel Fish has gone fishing. In fact, it's just the usual craziness of the semester's start squared. In addition to teaching a first term seminar, serving as department chair, and going AWOL for a few days to attend a family wedding, I've been busy meeting with classes in political science, religion, and gender studies, showing students some of the tools of research. Every librarian involved in this kind of instruction has the occasional crisis of faith. Are the students really getting anything out of this?
September 6, 2010
There was an interesting story in the New York Times Magazine this past Sunday on a simple, inexpensive, and effective means of bringing malnourished children back to health. It’s a gooey fortified peanut butter called “Plumpy’nut,” and if you want to know how to make it, here’s the recipe.
August 31, 2010
Okay, I know it's a naive question, but why did universities decide that their presses should be profit centers, or should at the very least make enough revenue to cover their expenses? Libraries aren't asked to make enough money to pay for themselves. Libraries and university presses both exist to further knowledge - so why the difference? Why do universities accept the idea that libraries cost money, but assume that disseminating research and sharing knowledge should pay for itself or even be profitable?
August 26, 2010
Before I say anything else, I want to praise you for responding so quickly to concerns raised by librarians about the new interface that was just rolled out. You folks grasped the issues, you didn't whitewash the problems, and you laid out a plan to solve them, providing a realistic assessment of how long it will take to make the necessary changes. Bravo.But ... honestly, what was that all about?
August 23, 2010
Last week, when I challenged readers to think about how to make open access happen, Jason Baird Jackson had a ready answer: the Open Folklore project. This project is drawing a terrific map for societies unsure of how to proceed.
August 18, 2010
Dorothea Salo has an interesting post at the Book of Trogool. She wonders about the mission of academic libraries, and about one paradox in particular: Can libraries support the open access movement by reallocating funds from paying for content to providing support for open access publications, or does that somehow go against the library's mission to support its local clientele?
August 12, 2010
Librarians have a love/hate relationship with Google. We are just as prone as any mortal to wonder what on earth we did without it. We use Google tools daily and show students how to use features they may not have discovered. Many of us have gmail and Google Reader accounts. Some of us are paralyzed when Google Calendar takes a nap. We aren't sure where we're supposed to be, so we are tempted to take a nap, too.
August 9, 2010
Ever since I read an essay, "The Shock of Inclusion" by Clay Shirky in Edge, I've been pondering the implications of one of the stickiest concepts in the essay: he argues that publishing is the new literacy.
August 5, 2010
I just had to do some housecleaning among my RSS feeds. Some of my favorite blogs had moved from Scienceblogs to Scientopia in the wake of PepsiGate.

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