In 2015 while on sabbatical, I assembled some of my blog post and articles into Babel Fish Bouillabaisse, an open access anthology, using PressBooks. At the time I was experimenting 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.

A few years later, Minitex, which supports libraries in Minnesota and the Dakotas, made PressBooks available to the public through libraries.  By then, I had added digital humanities to my librarian portfolio, so I used the platform to help a retired faculty member bring some of his writings to the public. I also was developing a new course, so adapted Mike Caulfield’s Web Literacy for Student Fact-Checkers into an open access textbook – Clickbait, Bias, and Propaganda in Information Networks – along with my co-instructor, Rachel Flynn, and our students, who contributed chapters. I began to think it was time throw together another anthology of my own, which turned out to be good advanced planning when my 10-year blogging gig with Inside Higher Ed came to an end after 492 posts – something over 350,000 words about libraries, learning, technology and society.

My blogging goes back further. 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 began a blog for my library and become one the inaugural contributors to the Association of College and Research Libraries blog, which is still going strong (though I stepped away from it in 2011). Between 2009 –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. In future, I’ll return to blogging at my own site, though on a more relaxed and ad hoc schedule because having no deadlines will do that to a person.

A lot happened in libraries, technology, and society in my decade of blogging for IHE. Open access to scholarly publishing went from something only activists knew much about to a significant part of the scholarly publishing environment. Lever Press, which I helped to brainstorm into existence, 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. Students struggled with research papers. Librarians struggled to help. Project Information Literacy released one fascinating report after another, and after fan-girling 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. And I had the chance to work out my thoughts in writing, every week.

I’ve assembled some of those blog posts here, along with articles and the text of talks I’ve given since 2015, into a second helping of Babel Fish Bouillabaisse. Bon appétit.


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Babel Fish Bouillabaisse II Copyright © 2019 by Barbara Fister is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.