Posted by: mdmusingsie | April 23, 2012

Leabharlann Náisiúnta

The World Wide Web is a wonderful place, containing a plethora of interesting information, much of it factual, other bits, questionable.  At times that wide world presents you with an over abundance of information which can leave you tired, lost, and more confused than when you started.

For those of us born prior to the advent of the Web, there’s also another great place for research.  It may not be as quick, and the accuracy of the content is no more or less questionable than what is online, but you can often find the information you’re looking for with less data overload.

I’ve been to the Galway Library, which is very similar to the typical library you’ll find anywhere in America, with rows of shelves containing a myriad of books, arranged in an organized fashion.  The library is somewhat small, and I needed to do some historical research for some of the pieces I’m writing, so I decided to visit the National Library of Ireland in Dublin.

This is not your grandmother’s library, although with the vast array of historical and aging books and documents, it certainly contains items from ancestors well past.  What I really mean, however, is it doesn’t function as a traditional library, where you look up the books you want, get the location/reference code (i.e. Dewey Decimal number) and wander around until you find the right shelf.  It’s a giant reference section, where you can read and examine books, but not check them out.

Instead, you find the names and reference codes of the books you are interested in reading, fill out a form with your “Reader’s Ticket” (similar to a library card) number, and they bring them to you.  Fortunately, I had searched the catalog online and had the list of books I wanted to review.  After obtaining my Reader’s Ticket, I filled out the forms to request my books.  Books are only delivered at certain times, so you may want to plan in advance and order then ahead of time for the day/time you plan on being there.  I wasn’t sure what time I would arrive, so I played the waiting game, which, fortunately, wasn’t too long.

Sometimes we get lucky and the first item we find gives us all the information we need, and at other times, you can pretty much count on it being the last thing you touch.  In this case, much of what I needed on one subject was in the first book, thought I did get some other valuable tidbits from other resources.  One query I was after wasn’t resolved, but that may either be related to the fact that I haven’t found the right reference books, or, based on the esoteric nature of this particular query, there isn’t a cut and dried answer.  Either way, it was a learning experience in many ways, and a beautiful, historical building, to boot (right next to the National Museum of Archaeology, which is a must see if you’re in Dublin).

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