In memory of Joe Barker

Joe BarkerIt is with great sadness that we pass on the news that veteran Infopeople instructor Joe Barker passed away very suddenly and unexpectedly last night. At this time, we have no details in regard to cause, arrangements for memorial service, etc. As soon as we know any more, we will post another message.

Until June 2007, Joe was a full-time reference and instruction librarian at the Doe Library and Moffit Undergraduate Library at UC Berkeley. He held an MLIS from Berkeley and a PhD in French Literature from Emory University. He was a third generation California native who grew up in the foothills between Sacramento and Lake Tahoe.

From 2000 through 2009, Joe taught 135 classes for Infopeople, mostly on web searching, with an emphasis on answering reference questions. The specific titles included PowerSearch, State of the Art Web Searching, Extreme Googling, Making the Most of the Post-Google Web, and Web 2.0: Searching Innovations.

Joe had a unique awareness of what library staff and librarians need to know to step into the post-Google future that now includes the world of blogs and the convenience of RSS feeds. His latest class, Advanced Web Search Tools and Tricks for 2009, was designed to capture ways to explore, use, and find quality information and track trends in web searching. The class was scheduled to start tomorrow, April 7.

Joe will be greatly missed here at Infopeople. If you would like to share a memory or thought of or about Joe, please use the comments section of this blog entry. We will be sure they get passed along to his partner.

15 thoughts on “In memory of Joe Barker

  1. Wow. I can’t even begin to speak to Joe’s fabulousness. We worked together for a while at UCB, and I could always count on Joe for support, friendship and good nature. He was a kind and helpful colleague, and I always knew he “had my back”. Sorry to see you go, Joe. RIP

    What shocking and sad news.

  2. I am so sorry to hear about Joe’s death. We worked at the Cal library together at one point. He was a wonderful teacher and I learned a great deal in his classes.
    May his memory be for a blessing.
    Barbara Bibel

  3. I was in the midst of finishing Joe’s search class through InfoPeople, so this news came as a complete shock. I did not know Joe, but I think it is wonderful he gave of himself so generously in retirement to train librarians to be better at search, a crucial skill in librarianship. He could have been focusing on himself but instead he helped others. I am very sad to hear of his death.

  4. I am so sad to learn of Joe’s passing. I took a few classes from him at InfoPeople and thought he was not just a great teacher but seemed to be a very kind and caring person. I really enjoyed the classes I took from him. Sharon

  5. These are taken from remarks I made at Joe’s retirement party at UC Berkeley in June of 2007:

    Joe began his career working in the field of acquisitions; he published over 20 articles in journals and books in that field, and he received the Assoc for Library Collections & Tech Services Leadership in Library Acquisitions Award in 1996

    Joe was forced to make a major mid-career change when the Library discontinued the Head of Acquisitions position. How difficult that was to do! Joe went from Acquisitions where he was a complete expert to being a complete and utter novice as a Program Coordinator at the Teaching Library, where I was Head. He had to move from one side of the battlefield, if you will, to the other. Tech services and public services are not always on the same side of the line, even though they should be.

    One of the things that he did very graciously was to recognize me as a fellow manager. He had managed far more people in Acquisitions than I did in the Teaching Library. He was always very supportive, very enthusiastic in meetings, displayed leadership in supporting the direction of the library. He certainly could have done otherwise.

    But he came to really have an understanding of undergraduate students. In looking back I realize how prescient we was in this article, “‘Now Which Buttons Do I Press to Make These Articles Appear on the Screen?”, Serials Review 25, Issue 3 (November 1999), 49-54.:

    “It is easy to say that the future looks bright for electronic
    journals in undergraduate libraries. We are rapidly
    working to evolve new systems and bureaus that
    will resolve discrepancies between the CDL, our catalogs,
    and the subject Web pages. In the early days of automated
    cataloging, we had to look in no less than nine
    catalogs to find a book at Cal ( journals somewhat fewer).
    It’s rough transitioning to a new way of organizing
    knowledge. At present, we are entering into larger site license
    packages that will greatly extend the uniformity of
    large portions of the publishers’ sites for e-journals and
    their interfaces with our catalogs. The success of interfaces
    like those provided by HighWire Press is very encouraging:
    acquisition and delivery can operate well. It
    will all come together. As one who used to manage serials
    control at Berkeley, I know that nostalgia for the
    paper past is more sentimental than accurate. We can
    look forward instead to a future when students will do
    their term papers sending out their avatar virtual selves,
    querying interactive, intelligent databases and perhaps
    consulting avatar librarians to find e-everythings.”

    As you know, Joe became a web research expert I won’t say more about that, except that he became a popular and well-known speaker, and much invited to speak at conferences, including in France

    What I admire about Joe is that he was very willing to be a learner himself, to observe and start over again.

  6. Joe had eye surgery in the middle of teaching Adv Search but he barely skipped a beat. I was amazed at his dedication and drive, and gained a lot from the class.
    My sincere condolences to his loved ones.

  7. Joe was definitely a pioneering Web researcher and instructor whose Web tutorial educated many at the inception of the World Wide Web.

    It was certainly a privileged opportunity to have taken many of his on-site and online courses, as I continue to incorporate much of his knowledge and handouts into my curriculum and personal life.

    Cheers to the memory and legacy of a terrific librarian/instructor whose cutting-edge knowledge and passion for online searching and teaching continues to inspire the best in all of us as information professionals.

  8. I worked with Joe at UCB back in the 80s and early 90s, when I was head of Periodicals, then head of the Earth Sciences Library. I liked travelling over to Doe to peruse the new books, and always enjoyed a chance to chat with Joe. I was really looking forward to renewing our acquaintance when I signed up to take his next online class in advanced Web searching. What a shock to hear of his sudden passing. It’s been a long time since I knew him, but I still remember Joe as one of the most dynamic, funny, and intelligent librarians I ever had the pleasure to work with. My sincere condolences to his family and friends.

    Folsom Public Library

  9. I worked under Joe in the Acquisitions Department in the mid-1980s. What I remember most is his ability to find one more question. That is, in any managerial discussion we would all come up with all the ideas, points of view, and possibilities we could. Then he would point out the final (often glaringly obvious) idea or viewpoint. It was the mark of an excellent teacher, rarely encountered in any lifetime. Peace to his soul and comfort to those who loved him.

  10. I’ve been walking around in kind of a haze. I can’t believe he’s gone. He has always been someone who is so completely *there* with his presence– and yes, with sharp intelligence, a ready wit and kindness and sensitivity too. I met Joe at a presentation he did at St. Mary’s College in about 1995 and was very impressed by him. Since then, I was privileged to be able to benefit from him as a teacher and then later as a colleague and co-consultant on some IFP work. The world is a darker place now, but what he has shown and taught us all will enable us to carry his light on.

  11. I will miss Joe very much. It was a privilege, and a genuine learning experience, to work with him.

    One part of Joe’s teaching legacy that still lives on is the online tutorial, “Finding Information on the Internet,” which he created to accompany his web searching workshops at UC Berkeley:

    This has become one of the most heavily used and linked-to tutorials on web search and evaluation in the world. It has been translated into Spanish, French, Hebrew, Polish, Russian, German, Dutch and other languages, and adapted for use in libraries and schools from Laredo to Nairobi. It consistently accounts for a major portion of the traffic to the Cal library’s website.

    Perhaps most telling of all, in a world of “perpetual beta” and frequent redesigns: while the tutorial has been updated since Joe’s retirement, it still very much reflects his original thinking and writing.

    There aren’t very many people who can create something like that.

  12. I feel honored to have learned from Joe these past few months in our Infopeople online course. I will continue to pass along all the knowledge he shared with us. He will be missed.

  13. We were very saddened to hear of Joe’s passing. His legacy will live on through all of us he taught to be better researchers and Internet users. Thank you, Joe, for all your patience and willingness to lead the courses.

  14. Wouldn’t say that I knew Joe well, but I did have delightful encounters with him via Infopeple and other groups over a several-year period, and absolutely adored the online course I took with him through Infopeople last year. (It wouldn’t be an understatement to say that what he and Sarah offered via Infopeople gave me a great advantage as I began my MLIS studies.) As I said to Sarah, the news hit me unexpectedly hard, and I really feel a terrible void in our community of learners right now.

    Dear Holly

    I am very sad to hear this news also, but thank you for sharing it. I was a colleague of Joe’s for many years at UCB, and he always had my back. This is just happening to too many people I know as of late!
    –Laura Moody

    Oh so sad am I to hear about Joe. Back in the 80’s we worked together planning programs for NCTPG Spring Conferences and a “Business of Acquisitions” program for ALA. I have more recently attended several of Joe’s Infopeople classes to keep up with online reference sources. He will be missed throughout our California libraries where he touched so many library staff.

    Brenda Crotts
    Oroville Branch Librarian


    Thanks for letting us know.

    I only got to take one of these classes, but it was a rare pleasure, and I’m happy to say that I sent him a raving fan letter the next day.

    Rosalind Kutler, M.L.I.S.

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