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

September 13, 2012
As I walked  to work, doing that risky thing of reading on my phone while crossing streets, I discovered Friendfeed was down. Friendfeed is where I get all my information, inspiration, and hot news. It’s where I go to vent when I’m frustrated. It also has a nice widget that I’ve embedded in many of my websites, from my CV to my obsessive catalog of Scandinavian crime fiction translations. When Friendfeed goes down, my pages get messed up, and I can’t go to my usual watering hole to complain, because . . . well it’s down.  Instead, I went to Twitter to see if anyone knew what was going on. Nope, just lots of consternation.
September 6, 2012
There is an extraordinary tension in our culture between individual creativity and the creative community, between originality and a shared body of knowledge, between the acts of reading culture and writing culture. And our students are caught in the middle.
August 28, 2012
A recent post by Emily Ford at In the Library With a Lead Pipe asked us to think about what we do and why we do it. That’s a wonderfully clear way to ask how our philosophy of librarianship is applied in daily practice and how the things we do articulate our beliefs, for better or worse.
August 20, 2012
Thanks to my membership in the Library Society of the World, an anarchic group of librarians who pay no dues and have no rules (my people!), I get useful information (and many moments of laughter and delight) on a regular basis. Two bits of recent news made me think about how quickly things can change in the mostly-digital library.
August 14, 2012
There’s a choice academic and public libraries face. One  is to focus entirely on providing access to the published information that our community members want. The other is to work toward libraries being a platform for creating and sharing culture.
August 8, 2012
When it comes to change driven by digital opportunities, it seems a lot of the proposed solutions simply trade one problem for a new one.
August 2, 2012
Why do we love apocalyptic metaphors so much? Nobody reads. Libraries are doomed. Higher education must change radically or die; no, wait, it’s already dead.  R. David Lankes (author of The Atlas of New Librarianship) says it’s time to close the crisis center when it comes to libraries, and I agree. Yet there is something about heightened anxiety that is so tempting.
July 26, 2012
As I put together the annual report for the library, I spent a lot of time looking at numbers. One of them was the average cost of articles we provided to faculty published in journals we can’t afford and which we couldn’t get free through interlibrary loan. The average cost we paid per article? $41.89. This is making me think about the costs of our stern new religion of austerity.
July 18, 2012
A lot has changed since I first started working at the Little College on the Prairie. When I arrived, one of my first tasks was to explain to the community how to use the online catalog, which arrived a month or two before I did. Searching then involved typing commands into one of a handful of terminals that were surrounded by the card catalog that we weren’t quite ready to dispose of. A few years later, we were able to search for articles through those terminals with their beady yellow characters. The library filled with the chatter of dot matrix printers.
July 12, 2012
A recent series of three blog posts by Kathleen Fitzpatrick chimed nicely with two things I am thinking about these days: how scholars can best share their ideas in a digital age (and what the decisions scholars make will mean for libraries as we rejigger positions and allocate resources) and how I’m going to pull off a conference we’re holding this October on Nordic women crime writers. Event planning is not in my skill set (hey, my idea of a perfect wedding is eloping), but I’m really excited about putting readers, writers, and scholars together to see what happens.

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