Lost in Translation--Crazy Reference Questions
The following is another story from The Merry Librarian. Once again, this true story is an example of patron expectations for a librarian’s abilities. As bizarre requests go, this one is definitely a strange need for information. And we’re just curious…why is it that when a patron needs something complicated and bizarre, they always want it within 24 hours? Just curious....
“Here’s a situation I ran into yesterday that I thought you might find amusing…it falls under the “librarians should know everything about everything” assumption that much of the general public seems to have. A man walked into our branch yesterday and asked me the following questions:
“If something were translated from English into Mayan hieroglyphics into Egyptian hieroglyphics, would someone from Iran who speaks Hebrew be able to understand it?”
Umm…I’m thinking not.
“Well, then, could you translate it for me so they could understand it?”
…Why yes, of course I happen to be fluent in ALL those languages. (I am a librarian, after all.)
“Well, do you have a book that translates Mayan hieroglyphics into Egyptian hieroglyphics into Hebrew?”
I’m thinking not…but I’ll check anyway just to appease you…Nope, just as I suspected. Nothing.
“Why don’t you have any books that do that?”
I don’t think there is a book anywhere that does that.
“Well, what can you do? I need it done tonight.”
…Luckily, I it was close to the end of my shift and I was able to pass this patron along to my unsuspecting coworkers…who had no idea what they were walking into and may not be very happy next time they see me…”
- “Julia” from Fountain, CO