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

December 15, 2011
Mark Bauerlein’s recent critique of the scholarly habit of producing a voluminous amount of research in literary studies that is rarely cited has prompted a number of responses.
December 7, 2011
Last week, I found myself fascinated by Tim Sherrat’s observation that interfaces are sites of power. Similarly, the architecture of a library says a lot to its users about the position they hold in the realm of knowledge, as visitors, consumers, or as members of a discipline or a tradition.
December 1, 2011
Sometimes I worry that libraries that try to create alternatives to big publishing are just adding more publications to the already bloated number of scholarly journals being published. I worry that well-intentioned alternatives too often end up filling a niche that may be valuable, but doesn’t do anything significant to change the way we share knowledge.
November 22, 2011
In the New York Times this past Sunday, there was a front page article on the inadequacy of law schools in preparing lawyers for the work they will do. The culprit? The faculty write too many law review articles, according to the reporter. If they were teaching (or even practicing law) instead of writing arcane articles they wouldn’t be so out of touch. The journalist cited a law review article on how few law review articles get cited.
November 17, 2011
I’ve been reading a lot of reactions to the way the Occupy Wall Street library was removed from Zuccotti Park when the Occupy Wall Street encampment was broken up. It’s a situation charged with symbolic meaning. The initial reports that the library’s 5,000 plus books had been destroyed by the police was countered by a chirpy tweet from the mayor’s office with a picture of books safe and sound in a sanitation department garage. Many tweets later, it turned out that around half the library was missing and much of what was salvaged was damaged.
November 15, 2011
Ten years ago, Abigail Sellen and Richard Harper published a nifty book about how and why people use paper in their workplaces. The Myth of the Paperless Office reported ethnographic observations of people struggling to do things with computers that they were used to doing on paper; sometimes there were good reasons why paper was so persistent. The title reminded us that the “paperless office” we were promised decades ago is a joke - on us. We use more paper than ever and manage to have disorderly desktops both literally and digitally. That's a funny kind of progress.
November 11, 2011
Today a colleague and I were feeling discouraged about the library sessions we’d been having with first year students.
November 2, 2011
I just attended THATCamp Publishing, a lively day of making and doing in classic THATcamp unconference mode. If you’re unfamiliar with THATCamp, it’s a terrific series of humanities and technology unconferences.
October 27, 2011
This weekend I’ll be attending THATCamp Publishing in Baltimore. If you’re not familiar with THATCamp, it’s a series of unconferences focused on making and doing digital humanities. And if you’re not familiar with unconferences, they are gatherings focused on a common interest that are designed to be inexpensive and organized on the fly and without a set program.

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