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Milton Who?

Who is this Milton you talk about? – photo by David Kessler

Today I went to the library to return the books I’ve read (all of them from the previous post, except for Kafka’s The Castle), and to take some new ones; some of them I need for the translation I’m currently doing, Paradise Lost and Catullus are quoted there, and I have no wish to invent hot water if the translation of those works to Serbian already exists, and it does.

The librarian I encountered was the same one who wondered if I could read 6 books in 20 days and who loves romance novels and Twilight. Oh, and to whom I had to show where George R.R. Martin’s books were on the shelf. But hey, I was looking for classics, librarians know about classics, right?


The first one I tried was Catullus. Poems by Catullus. She had no idea who Catullus was, I had to spell out the name to her so she could check it in the library computer. She doubted there was such an author in the library, and even when she found his name in the catalogue she was still not certain, but, since the numbers told her exactly where the book was, she was able to find it. Yay. I told her I was doing a translation and some Catullus was in it and that’s why i needed this book. She looked at me, puzzled, and said: “But this is in Serbian!”

The next one I was looking for was Paradise Lost. I told her the title and the author, just in case, still somehow sure that, even if she had no idea who Catullus was, she would certainly know Milton. Come on, everybody knows Paradise Lost and Milton and that wonderful Satan he created!

Both the title and the author were unknown to her. She typed the title into the computer and came up with no results (it’s a small library, it’s possible for them not to have every classic). I don’t guarantee she typed the title right, though. Then she asked me for the name of the author, to try that way. Milton, I said. John Milton. Still no recognition, but she checked it out. Nope, no Milton in this library.

So, I came back home with Poems by Catullus and three other books; I’d say those three were for pleasure while Catullus was for work, but hey, it’s all pleasure. I also did a good deed and told the librarian where the books I returned (Hamsun, Loe, Svendsen, Petterson ) were supposed to stand. She commented on me reading so many Scandinavian authors – of course, she commented after I told her they were on the shelf right next to her desk, with Scandinavian authors.

Don’t get me wrong, she really is a very nice lady, and she really does try to help, and her not knowing where the books stand in the library she works in isn’t too much of an issue for me since I mostly find them by myself anyway, but, aren’t people supposed to know a bit more about the jobs they’re performing? Even if it’s not some life-saving job, like a doctor?

Oh well, I got some of the books I needed, and the situation wasn’t life-threatening by any means. Some similar experiences, anyone?


A writer, a reader, a dreamer. Dreaming myself into existence.

8 thoughts on “Milton Who?

  1. Who knows everything about anything really, whether it falls in line with their job or not? Even doctors make the occasional slip up, which is why they have malpractice insurance.


  2. Well, I'd expect a librarian to know at least some basics, and classics should be basics. Then again, I suppose that the computer catalogue was created in such a manner that even if a librarian never reads a single book in her/his life, they can still find it by numbers. I expect them to develop catalogues in pictures, so the library employees don't even have to be able to read. 🙂


  3. Glad you were able to find your books! I wish I had your tenacity in reading that many books in such a short amount of time. I took out two books from the local library here and I'm still halfway through the first one. It's been three weeks! Love the kitty cat photo! 🙂


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