This month we have chosen Dan Lester, librarian emeritus at Boise State University where he worked from 1990-2008 as a librarian and IT Network Manager. Dan hosted the BUSLIB-L email discussion list from 1991-1996 and again from 2000-2007. (Other moderators over the years included Gary Klein at Willamette University in Salem, OR and Tina Adams and Karen McCoy at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, AZ. Today it is moderated by Theresa Carlson, who is also at Northern Arizona University)
We chose BUSLIB as one of our April 2015 Best of the Business Web selections, describing it as "one of the most valuable places on the Web to obtain authoritative, timely and personalized help on virtually any matter related to business research, business librarianship, or other subjects on business, information professionals, and online searching.”
The following is an edited summary of our discussion with Dan.
Q. How many subscribers were there when you began hosting the list?
A. There were about 500, and when I left there were about 1,500. In the early and mid-1990s, people were really just getting started with exchanging information by email. It was not so common back then.
Q. About 25 years after the Business Librarian’s list was created, it is still active and going strong with nearly 2,000 subscribers. What do you attribute its longevity to?
A. One reason is that it covers a continuing, always changing topic. Although much of the discussion is technological, it is not static. For example, I used to moderate a list about CD ROM networks, but once that technology became less frequently used, the number of users of the list fell off, and I eventually shut it down.
[Editor’s Note: Another reason BUSLIB has stood the test of the time is the quality of the content itself, and the excellent administration of the list which eliminates virtually any spam and posts unrelated to business research]
Q. What kinds of research questions do you think this list works best for? Where does it shine?
A. One key area is what I’d call “peer assessment." Someone will post something like: has anyone tried such and such database? Or: has anyone else had this problem with this vendor? And so forth. Some years ago, when there was a scam publisher organization trying to sell directories to librarians, members were very good at ferreting out information on that business. One subscriber even drove to the location where the firm was supposedly headquartered and reported back it was just a mailbox in somebody’s driveway.
Q. How has life been since you left Boise State?
A. After I retired, I immediately left for a 14 week vacation in the South Pacific. Today I am living in St. George, Utah, close to Zion National Park.
Thanks to Dan—and all the other Business Librarians list moderators over the years--for their hard work and dedication in keeping such a valuable resource for business researchers alive!
(Note if you are not already a subscriber to BUSLIB-L, you can subscribe by clicking here.)