The Librarian-As-Insider-Ethnographer

Journal of Library Innovation
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Journal of Library Innovation, 2013, 4 (1), pp. 1 - 9
Issue Date:
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This article considers preliminary findings from ethnographic fieldwork undertaken in Australia and Canada in do-it-yourself (DIY) libraries and archives. These spaces are usually run on small or no budgets, often in squatted or donated spaces, with no paid staff. They are motivated by a DIY ethos, and often have a connection to so-called underground communities. In this article the author responds to Chris Attons model of librarian-as-ethnographer, which argues that information workers can draw on ethnographic methods to build cultural maps of grassroots and DIY communities. The author proposes that there are information professionals already in these communities, and their roles in both professional and DIY libraries enhances the librarian-as-ethnographer model by providing an insider perspective that may mediate tensions between the two collection spaces. The author draws on her fieldwork in zine libraries, infoshops, and social centers as example.
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