Field Ethnography: Zoology (ish)

Suddenly, an elephant.

Last Thursday I went on a hunt for the zoology library. I found three libraries, an elephant head, and vaults full of tree parts. While wandering in the general vicinity of what I thought was my target, I first entered a stairwell and after ascending three flights was startled by an elephant head looming over it all. The doors leading off from this stairwell were locked.

A glimpse into the Herbaria, which was closed at the moment.

Onto another entrance, I find the Farlow Library and Herbaria. The Herbaria is closed but looks like it’s probably a very nice space if one shows up during the right hours.

The index books for the plant vaults.


The Farlow Library is on a few floors within this same building and contains rows of vaults full of manila folders. These folders each have plant material in them – sticks and leaves. It’s pretty cool. There are a few people in the library, flipping through the indexes of the vaults.

The manila folders contain plant material and papers.

But since all I can find are plants and human animals, I decide this isn’t the library I’m looking for and I search for another door from the outside. I locate another library, on the 2nd floor of a building adjacent. This, the Mayr Library, is part of the Museum of Comparative Zoology. There aren’t too many people around here either – there’s the staff, sitting at a circulation desks in the cozy main room, and a few students hiding near windows within the stacks.

The main room of Mayr Library – cozy.


It seems likely that most of these have selected this study location for its quiet and isolation – I don’t see them going to look for books on the stacks. I myself choose to sit down for a few hours in one of the mismatched (but comfortable) chairs in order to use the wi-fi. There isn’t much change over these hours, no one walks through my part of the reading room, the window air conditioner keeps at it, I watch people out the window instead.


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