So Long, and Thanks For All the Fish*

Atlantic Cod image

For ten years, I was an Inside Higher Ed blogger. I was a bit stunned and sad to get the call to tell me it was over, but after ten years I may have worn out my welcome. (Ever since the days of sharing my opinions on library Listservs in the 1990s I have always imagined eyes rolling as my name pops up: not that woman again! I’m sure hearing too much from one Librarian With Opinions gets old.)

I’ll carry on blogging here, though without deadlines and a paycheck I suspect I will be a bit more ad hoc about when I post. A more relaxed schedule will give me time to work on that book project that I’ve  pushed aside for too long. (It’s  about libraries as proof-of-concept for information as a public good, the values Silicon Valley lacks, and what we should do about it.)

I have a long history with this form of public writing. I remember the day (though I’m not certain of the year) when a student, who is now a seasoned librarian himself, introduced me to this new thing he was excited about. I was chatting with him at the reference desk, and he politely asked to borrow my keyboard and brought up Blogger to demonstrate how easy it was – much easier than my kludgy attempts to put library news on our site using raw html. I was hooked.

I began to assign blog posts as writing assignments in courses starting in 2005. That year, I also launched a blog for my library and become one the inaugural contributors to ACRLog, which is still going strong (though I stepped away from it in 2011). Between 2009 and 2015 I wrote a weekly column for Library Journal (in disappearing e-ink, as the links have all broken) and began blogging weekly for Inside Higher Ed in 2010.

A lot happened in libraries and technology during my decade of blogging for IHE. Open access to scholarly publishing went from something only activists cared much about to becoming a significant part of the scholarly publishing environment. Lever Press, which I helped to brainstorm into existence, now has an entire catalog of open access books published, with more in development. The Google Books lawsuits were resolved, the GSU e-reserves lawsuits were not. Wall Street was occupied and had its own library until the police tossed it into dumpsters. We lost Aaron Swartz. Edward Snowden blew the whistle. Net neutrality was rescued, but then deregulated out of existence, though the fight isn’t over. Social media became increasingly anti-social. The news industry continued to struggle, with half of newspaper journalists pink-slipped over the decade.

Librarians retired a set of standards for information literacy in favor of a more complex framework after much debate. Project Information Literacy released one fascinating report after another. After being a fan for a decade I was  tickled to be invited to serve as their first Scholar-in-Residence, to help with a project that is close to my heart. The report will be published on January 15th – it’s a corker, if I do say so myself.

Some things during that decade didn’t change. Students struggled with research papers, just as they have since I first began to work in an academic library. Librarians struggled to help. And I had the chance to work out my thoughts in writing, every week. It was great to have a platform where people interested in higher ed gathered and I could share ideas about libraries and technology and how these things operate on society.

In 2015 while on sabbatical, I assembled some of my blog posts and articles into an open access anthology using PressBooks. I was motivated to explore with public scholarship by blogging about my research into online book discussion communities while exploring the potential for using new platforms for open access scholarship. Since then Minitex, my local library collective, has made PressBooks available as a service to everyone in the region through their libraries. Last summer, I began to think it was time throw together another edition of Babel Fish Bouillabaisse, which turned out to be good advanced planning as my 10-year gig with Inside Higher Ed came to an end after 492 blogposts – something over 350,000 words about libraries, learning, technology and society.

It may take me a while to catch up to that kind of volume here – but I will be using this space to work out my thoughts, try out ideas, and share things I’ve been reading. I mean, I’ve been doing it for a very long time, and it’s a habit that’s hard to break. And as always, I appreciate anyone who stops by to share their thoughts.

*Readers of a certain age and temperament will recognize the reference as the Babel Fish at IHE makes way for a hyperspace bypass.

Public domain image courtesy of Wikimedia. A slightly different version of this post appeared on Inside Higher Ed.

6 thoughts on “So Long, and Thanks For All the Fish*

  1. Barbara I will truly miss your regular posts to IHE. You never fail to provide thoughtful and keen insight to important topics. BUT I look forward to seeing what other writing will come our way in a different format!

  2. I was fortunate to have had a course at San Joe State University’s, Library Information Science program, to have been assigned articles to read published by you. “Why the “Research Paper” Isn’t Working,” (2011) continues to resonate with me the most.
    You were, are and I’m confident, will continue to be a LIS Luminary!
    Anne Tignanelli

    1. Thanks for the kind words. Funny how persistent this genre the “research paper” is. I just noticed from a survey in the 1980s that a survey in the 1960s found 80% of writing assignments were of this type – and a PIL study found the same percentage in the 2000s. There are so many different ways to write about information and many reasons to do research apart from writing assignments, but this one is apparently a stubborn feature of college writing. The crabgrass of assignments.

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