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Joe Barker

11 June 2009

Retired campus librarian Joseph W. Barker, who served both as head of the University Library's acquisition department and as program coordinator for the campus Teaching Library, died unexpectedly on Sunday, April 5, in Berkeley. He was 65 years old.

A third-generation California native who grew up in the foothills between Sacramento and Lake Tahoe, Barker earned a B.A. in Romance languages from UC Davis, an M.A. and Ph.D. in French literature and language from Emory University, and an M.L.I.S. from Berkeley. After five years (1970-75) as an assistant professor of French literature at SUNY Binghamton, he worked until 1983 in the University Library at Virginia Polytechnic Institute.

Barker started his Berkeley career that year as head of the library's acquisition department, a position he held until 1995, managing a department with multiple units and some 60 career staff. During that time he rose to national prominence as one of the premier acquisitions librarians in the country, publishing many articles in Library Acquisitions: Practice & Theory, Serials Review, and other professional journals. In 1996, Barker received the American Library Association's Leadership in Library Acquisitions award for his outstanding contributions to the field of acquisitions librarianship.

A 1995 reorganization led Barker to join the campus Teaching Library as a program coordinator. He served at the Moffitt Information Gateway and the Doe Information Center; designed and taught course-integrated bibliographic instruction at both the undergraduate and graduate levels; designed, taught, and coordinated instruction on Web use; and instructed patrons in the art of using the library's catalogs and many reference resources.

Barker became a recognized expert on Web searching, developing an online Web-search tutorial, "Finding Information on the Internet," that has been translated into multiple languages and linked to by more than 1,100 websites. At one point the most heavily used site of its kind in the world, it still accounts for approximately a quarter of the online traffic at the campus-library website.

Barker retired from the library in June 2007 with the rank of Distinguished Librarian, but continued to teach Web-searching classes through Infopeople, a nonprofit affiliated with the California State Library whose mission is to provide training and instruction to California librarians.

During his nearly two years of retirement, Barker savored the time he spent in the company of his beloved husband, Peter Raynolds. He was able to pursue his interests in reading, running, cooking, Buddhism, and spending time with good friends. Joe is survived by Raynolds; his mother, Matie Barker; sister Alma Rose; son Liam Barker; daughter-in-law Koyoko; and granddaughter Liana.

Donations in Barker's memory may be made to the charity of your choice. Those who wish to be informed of any scheduled memorial event should contact

Corliss Lee
University Library