Sherri L. Barnes
How did you become interested in librarianship?
I had a college work-study position re-shelving periodicals and working the periodicals desk at the J. Paul Leonard Library at San Francisco State University (SFSU). Since then, I’ve never considered a career doing anything else, not that I knew before then what I wanted to do.
Describe the first time you worked in a library.
My work-study job at SFSU was my first library position. My responsibilities included helping people at the periodicals desk and re-shelving periodicals in all their various formats – current serials, microfilm, microfiche, bound. Learning that there were all these different types of publications and information was very thrilling for me. One publication still sticks out in my mind – "Supermarket News." I thought it was so funny that there was a publication called "Supermarket News." At the desk I helped students find the periodical(s) they needed based on whatever citation information they had or showed them how to use the indexes to find citations. And, then, of course, there were all the little tasks that fall under "other duties as assigned," which usually meant some aspect of working in the back office processing materials.
My last LAUC appointment was LAUC-SB CAP (Committee on Advancement and Promotion) Chair.
What do you like best about being a UC librarian?
Learning. As a public service librarian primarily involved in collection development, liaison work, and scholarly communication outreach, I’m always learning new things. I’m not interested in having any position, where I would not be able to work with the content, students and faculty. One thing that attracted me to the UC system was that I could advance in the Librarian Series without becoming an administrator.
Describe a recent or current project on which you are working.
I’m working to establish a campus-wide scholarly communication and publishing discussion list that brings together faculty, grad students, librarians, administrators, editors and publishers from different parts of campus to expand engagement, raise awareness, and have a campus conversation about the changing nature of scholarly communication and publishing and its impact on access to research, the Library, and the university. My current challenge involves determining a manageable topical scope, which will be interesting enough to attract and engage members.
Describe your recent professional work outside of work, such as association work, writing, research, or anything else.
I recently completed a book review article on black feminist sexuality for Feminist Collections. The books I reviewed are A Taste of Brown Sugar: Black Women in Pornography (Duke 2014) by Mireille Miller-Young; The Black Body in Ecstasy: Reading Race , Reading Pornography (Duke 2014) by Jennifer Nash; and Black Female Sexualities (Rutgers 2015) edited by Trimiko Melancon and Joanne M. Braxton. I should also mention my "Black American Feminisms" bibliography, which I’ve been compiling since 1998. I hope to convert the website to a database and transfer ownership to a young energetic black feminist bibliographer.
What would you like the next big thing in libraries to be?
A sustainable model for open access journal and monograph publishing in the humanities and social sciences. Scholars own the scholarly communication system, but scholarly publishing impacts libraries greatly.
Complete this statement: "One surprising fact about me is...”
I moonlight as a part-time freelance book indexer. I specialize in scholarly books in feminist, ethnic and American studies, with interdisciplinary interests in history, art, and literature. I learned indexing through the UC Berkeley online extension course, attending American Society for Indexing conferences and San Diego chapter meetings. I love the reading and the challenge of creating an analyzed and well-structured index that reflects the author’s contribution to the field. I look forward to retirement when I’ll have more time for indexing, among other things.
Can you recommend a book or movie or tell us your favorite book or movie and why?
Until relatively recently The Grapes of Wrath (1939) was my favorite book. Since I read The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration (2010), it has become my new favorite. Both are migration stories of marginalized peoples, but The Warmth of Other Suns is non-fiction and follows the entire lives of three of the six million people that migrated from the South for northern and western cities during the Great Migration, which took place from 1915 to 1970. It’s a remarkably eloquent and compelling narrative, ethnography, and history about struggle, family, identity, place and mostly the American dream. The book inspired me to ask my mom what her first job was in San Francisco after migrating from Arkansas in fifties. I thought I knew, but was surprised to learn that it was “farmworker,” picking apples.