Friday, June 15, 2007

A Tale of Outstanding Dorkiness

Several days ago, I had stopped by the Reference Desk on my way to the staff areas of the library, to chat with a Library Friend. My new supervisor was also there, chatting. In the midst of our conversation, I gasped, because I noticed the library's copy of "The Children of Hurin" had arrived. My Library Friend, who is the cataloger said, "How about I get that in the catalog, and then you can process it." I happily agreed, and then had a short discussion with My New Supervisor about the LOTR movies. He claims they ruined the books for him. Briefly I thought this would put a serious hurdle to our relationship. But, I've reminded myself that purists are purists. Some people don't even like chunks of stuff in their ice cream. I lovingly processed the book, wrapping it in it's cover, putting on the labels (as straight as I possibly could), giving it a book pocket, stamping it with our library stamp.

Fast forward several days to our library staff meeting. The Assistant Director says, "We were supposed to get our copy of Tolkien's new book -- how someone who is dead can release a new book is beyond me! -- "The Children of Hurin," but it's not in our catalog." My Library Friend and I exchanged looks....of course it was in our catalog. I announced that I had processed that book, I was sure it was here. My Library Friend went over to a catalog station to hunt for it.

Do you know, my dear friends, why it didn't come up? OHHHHH, it's *such* a good one. It makes me giddy just to think of it.

People were doing a title search for "The Children of Hurin." Reasonable.

BUT! When My Library Friend had imported the record into our catalog....oh, it's so great, I can't wait for you to read what happened....THE RECORD HAD THE TITLE IN SINDARIN!!! A hunt for the author "Tolkien" turned up "Narn I Hin Hurin." Everyone else in the room was stumped. But I joyfully shouted out "That's SINDARIN! ELVISH, people, ELVISH!!"

Oh, but there is more dorkiness to unfold, best beloveds. Indeed.

I then shared with the group a fun fact I'd learned only the day before. A parent had come to the Kids Desk, wanting to know which book comes after "The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe." I had to go to Wikipedia, because I know there is some controversy on this point. See for yourself. After I talked her through it, I was browsing the article and saw that some people postulate that Narnia got it's name from the Sindarin word for "poem," namely "narn," as in "Narn I Hin Hurin." I guess C.S. Lewis denies that he was inspired by his buddy J.R.R.T. but I am going to continue to not only believe this rumor but spread it.

Is that not the most beautiful thing you've ever heard about a staff meeting?


Goodyear said...

Not, of course, that I might sink into metadorkiness, but the title should probably have been in Quenya, rather than Sindarin, since the tale is one of the First Age, when the Noldar ruled. Sindarin, in the mode of Beleriand, was being used but the tale just has that High-elven feel.

Jim Tschen Emmons said...

Oh Jenn, I think perhaps the double-whammy of Elvish _and_ cataloguing humor may have put Tolkien back on the list of chartables!