Barbara Fister

I'm a librarian who works at the Folke Bernadotte Memorial Library, Gustavus Adolphus College in Minnesota and and a writer of blog posts, articles, grocery lists, columns, twitter posts, and mysteries

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The content of the Library Babel Fish blog is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported 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. Attribution would be appreciated.

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Most Recent Articles

April 18, 2013
I wasn’t entirely sure what the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) would look like when the long-awaited launch date of April 18 approached. The suspense is finally over: it looks great.
April 11, 2013
The Ithaka faculty survey for 2012 is out. Just like in 2009, the faculty don’t think much of the library - except for the news that humanities faculty are a little more inclined than in the previous faculty survey to start their research using a library catalog. As in 2009, the library’s most valued function is to pay the bills for content, and even that function is less important than it was when the survey was last conducted. I can't help wondering - could it be because libraries have less money and the bills are higher?
April 3, 2013
My current fascination is the nature of online reading communities, which I hope will be the subject of my next sabbatical, assuming my proposal is accepted. So the sale of Goodreads to Amazon is naturally fascinating to me. 
March 28, 2013
I am puzzled and dismayed by all the hostility toward being generally educated these days. Apart from high-profile slams on entire fields of study by a governor who was disappointed by his daughter’s choice of major, so declared it universally useless,there is the fact that in the budget just signed this week, the National Science Foundation has been instructed by Congress to only fund political science research  if it benefits national security and the national economic interest. The implication is that advancing knowledge does not make our country more secure or better off.
March 20, 2013
The news business, the fight against CIPSA, and an important Supreme Court decision - all on my mind this week. 
March 14, 2013
Remember how the long tail was going to be the greatest thing ever? How technical innovation would let a thousand flowers bloom? How Silicon Valley’s great visionaries would lead us away from a world of few options and give us a world full of endless choices? That was then. Now it's all about me. 
March 7, 2013
A couple of fairly dorky words seem to be getting a lot of play lately: “curation” and “discovery.” Both of these are words that are familiar to librarians, a part of our professional toolkit, but they are being used increasingly in non-library settings. 
February 28, 2013
I have a friend who is tough-minded, outspoken, and perennially skeptical. She’s not a pushover, and she’s not the least bit sentimental. But last week, with the stroke of a pen, the president reduced her to tears. 
February 21, 2013
I’m finishing up a draft of a department self-study for an external review of our library. It’s the third time I’ve been involved in one of these, and the second time I’ve been primary author. It’s making me feel reflective about this enterprise we are part of, the nature of time, and questions of purpose and agency. Deep thoughts, in other words.
February 14, 2013
It suddenly seems as if suing librarians is the new business model for some publishers. There are a lot of reasons this seems unwise. For one, pissing off your customers is likely to cause your market to dry up.  For another, it’s going to result in a lot of publicity, but not the kind you want. But most importantly, we grownups have better ways of dealing with criticism.

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