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

October 4, 2012
When the chemistry faculty of SUNY Potsdam aligned themselves with their library director, Jenica Rogers, to say “no” publicly to the American Chemical Society (ACS) - because the price of their journal package was too high for schools like theirs and would have consumed a disproportionate percentage of the library’s total budget - it was newsworthy. Why in an era when “no” is being said so often is this news? 
September 26, 2012
The American Historical Association recently came out with a cautious statement about open access to humanities scholarship. I concur with their concerns about the recommendations made in the Finch Report. That report, the fruits of a UK government task force that included government officials, scientists, and publishers, more or less argues two things: publicly-funded research results should be accessible to all and, in order to create a model to accomplish that, publishers’ expenses should be covered by authors and their proxies, not by readers and their proxies. It’s a great recipe for sustaining publishing corporations. It is not a particularly good way of making research accessible. After all, the publishers who make the highest profits got us into an unsustainable situation. Why should the solution be designed to keep their revenue streams flowing with public dollars?
September 19, 2012
I am finally getting around to reading Andrew Delbanco’s College: What it Was, Is, and Should Be, and was struck by a list he provides in his introduction of “qualities of mind and heart” that are necessary for citizenship and which colleges should help their students develop. As I read them, I thought “oh, but this is also what libraries are for.” 
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.

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