My first job as an ethnographer is to make a personal decision about my ethnography, whose starting point is where I will carry it out. I start off this assignment clueless as to what field I will choose and set off to Dublin as it has the highest concentration of possible choices. However after a few uneventful hours walking around some of Dublin's public institutions my notebook remains unfurnished by notes of any kind. The tools of the trade; people are everywhere but I find it difficult to account for their chaos. Finally overwhelmed by the sheer profusion of idiosyncrasies I have already witnessed I go to the library to assess the few notes I have assembled thus far.
Once in the library I realise that this is what I have been missing out on so far. For my first time in the field I get the idea that I will be able to do this, that I have something I can work with.
Firstly the library is a social and cultural institution. Everywhere social and cultural institutions bind people into living communities. Even in technologically advanced countries such as Ireland people are still members of relatively small communities such as the library as well as being involved in the vast social and cultural milieu of the modern world and it is this prospective correlation between the Irish "community" and the library community which I will try to draw out in the latter discursive part of this essay.
"A good interpretation" according to Agar "takes us into the heart of that of which it is the interpretation". As such let me first describe my setting before scrutinizing it. The following are my notes collated and edited from four visits.
The aptly named Central Library is Dublin's most central library. It...