I write that I ‘browse’ through this volume because it is unlikely to be one that anyone can easily read through. The editors invited contributors to address any of the many areas that Barbara cared passionately about. No longer tied together by that passion, her wit, her knack for startlingly productive juxtapositions, her ability to make her own limitations the ground for an abruptly illuminating shift of context, the areas of her attention here drift apart into separate subject areas, no matter how sound the writers’ scholarship or incisive their analyses. Two of Barbara’s most important assets were her distractibility and her skill at analyzing her moments of distraction, asking why she had been distracted, what was the obscure connection between the two focuses – letting her investigations be informed by the unlikely rather than the obvious.
Many of the contributors are aware of being challenged by Barbara’s unorthodox routes toward insight, particularly the York University librarian, Lisa Sloniowski, who Barbara, shortly before her death, lured into becoming the curator