One Sunday afternoon at the local public library last month I was browsing in the poetry section when I overhead a teenage girl complaining to her mother, "It's just not here, and I don't know where to look!"

I gathered my courage and asked what she needed, which turned out to be Milton's Paradise Lost for a high school assignment. (Judging from her tone of voice, this was a last-minute panic situation. Her mom was wise enough not to over-react.) We scanned the shelves around the area without luck. I checked the online catalog and found the precise Dewey Decimal System number; Milton wasn't there either. But hmmm ... given that this is for school, maybe it's in the separate "Reading List" area? Good guess: we went there and indeed discovered quite a number of Cliff Notes for the book, but no Paradise Lost itself. (R.I.P.: the eponymous Cliff died recently.)

Dead end? Not quite ... there's one last chance: the library charity used-book sale in the basement. We descended the stairs, looked in the "M" section of poets, and voila! --- two copies, one old hardback in a loose binding for 50 cents, the other a newer paperback priced $1. I left mother and daughter there to decide between then.

Moral of this miniature tale? Libraries are nice places; when faced with a problem, don't give up at the first failure, but pursue alternative paths; it's fun to help people; and don't get mad at your mother if you've waited until the day before your homework is due.

Monday, June 11, 2001 at 05:45:30 (EDT) = 2001-06-11

TopicLibraries - TopicPersonalHistory - TopicProfiles

(correlates: CelebrityTakeover, BigLessons, ParadiseLostLost, ...)