Reel Librarians interview with two real librarians in Serbia

As I mentioned in last week’s bonus post, I received an email last month in my Reel Librarians account (reel.librarians [at] gmail [dot] com) from a lovely Serbian couple, Valentina (Tina) and Ljubomir (Ljuba) Branković, who are both librarians in Belgrade, the capital city of Serbia (which was formerly part of the country known as Yugoslavia from 1918-1992). They both enjoy this Reel Librarians blog and use this website’s resources in a very interesting way, which they detail in the interview below. The more we conversed via email and the more I learned about their lives as librarians in Serbia, the more I thought it would be interesting to share some of their story with all of you. Enjoy the interview below! 


To get us started, here are a couple of photos of Tina and Ljuba. (Right-click on each photo to view in a larger window.)

Q: Can you share a bit about your jobs and librarian duties? What is the library you both work in? 

A: Both of us are professional librarians (I have been working 16 and my husband 32 years!), and we have been working in the National Library of Serbia in Belgrade. I, Tina, work in the Department for Serial publication cataloging. Ljubomir works as librarian in the repository department. He had been chief of the Department for keeping and access to all funds and materials for 16 years and was an excellent, hard worker and very dedicated librarian. I have met a lot of fellow librarians so far, but Ljuba is the best librarian I have met in my life! Living Encyclopedia. And that is not only my modest opinion 🙂 For the last three years, he has been dealing with some other form of librarian job in our library depot.

Public libraries in Serbia have some interesting and useful seminars about readers’ habits, projects, public access and things like that. The National Library, where Ljuba and I work, is like a large archive place; books and magazines cannot be taken out, and users are allowed to use and scan materials only within the premises. The Library is a compound system, dealing with all of the standards, regulations, theories, librarian courses, and things like that. Also, the Library keeps a cooperative online catalogue, handles international publication exchanges, keeps rare and special materials (cartographics, posters, old and rare books etc.), and organizes literary lectures where some well-known and respected authors from various intellectual fields present. I have been engaged with some practical projects in our National library database (an article bibliography of a Serbian literary journal and the other one is a bibliography of written and published works of one of our writers).

[Editor’s note: The National Library is the biggest library and oldest cultural institution in Serbia — wow! You can visit the library’s website here, and there is an option to view the site in English].


Q: In the U.S, the American Library Association accredits graduate library science programs at different colleges and universities. Other countries have different systems and credentials for librarians. What kind of librarian training or degrees are offered in Serbia? 

A:  I graduated in 1998 from the Department for Librarianship and Information science in the University of Belgrade Faculty of Philology. I am not familiar with librarian students’ lives nowadays. There are various and advanced faculty courses and degrees, but I don’t know the exact facts about those changes. The proper education of library staff in Serbia (i.e. higher education faculty level) began back in 1963. 


Q: How would you say librarians are generally portrayed in Serbian movies? Are there common stereotypes? Do you feel that some of the general character types that I’ve identified on my website (such as the Spinster Librarian, Information Provider, etc.) are also evident in Serbian reel librarian movies?

A: Yes, the librarian portrayals are stereotypical in Serbia movies. There are not so many films with librarians in them, so based on that small amount of movies, I can say that, yes — here we have the same general character types as you have in America. Some of our greatest actors (both men and women) have played librarians in the movies. 🙂 They usually wear glasses, are quiet, calm, and naive people who are (of course) very smart and eloquent. Their roles are not so crucial for movie plots. 

Here is a little trivia: No movies have been made at the National Library of Serbia that Ljuba and I know of — and we have watched a lot of Serbian movies! Serbian movies with library scenes have been filmed in local towns’ libraries (old, vintage buildings) or in the University Library Svetozar Marković which is the oldest and largest university library in the country. The University Library building is the first building intentionally built as a library in Serbia in 1926, with donations from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. (You can look for philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. 🙂 ) The building inside is beautiful, old, charming and picturesque, an ideal place for movie scenes.

[Editor’s note: You can read more about Carnegie’s contribution to the University Library online here. And you can see many photos of the University Library online here at the Serbia Film Commission’s Film in Serbia site.]


Q: Your husband provided me with a wonderful list of reel librarian titles from Yugoslavia and Serbia, which I have added to my Foreign Language Films list. Thank you so much!! Do you have a personal favorite reel librarian movie from your home country?

A: Maybe my personal favourite Yugoslavian movie is Varljivo leto ‘68. It is a thrilling, funny comedy, about a young man growing in Yugoslavia in the year of student revolutions all over the world, 1968. Also, I love Poseban tretman (Special Therapy), a metaphorical social drama, and a little TV drama Od pet do sedam (From 5 to 7) from 1976, a love story between a woman librarian and a tourist on his vacation on the seaside in Croatia. 🙂

The Yugoslavian film Čovjek koji je voleo sprovode (A Man Who Loved Funerals) is also a great movie. Short summary: Filip lives in the small town of Samobor near Zagreb, employed in the local library as a librarian. His lonely routine is interrupted by the arrival of a new library manager, the handsome Elsa. From that time a series of mysterious deaths happens in a row…


Q: Do you have a personal favorite reel librarian movie overall? 

A: Our personal fave reel librarian films? Hmm….there are a lot of them. Maybe The Big Sleep (1946), The Mummy (1999), and The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (1965) for me, and Ljuba likes a lot the librarian character from The Shawshank Redemption (1994) and that one from the old The Twilight Zone TV show, the “The Obsolete Man” episode with Burgess Meredith (our fave TV-movie series of ALL time!). He also loves the librarian from the film Matilda (1996).


Q: How did you come across my Reel Librarians website?

A: Through the Internet, of course 🙂 , searching for keywords: library+movie and similar phrases. Your Reel Librarians website was among first on the Google results list. 


Q: Can you share details about your own personal project that my Reel Librarians website has helped out with?

A: My husband is firstly a passionate film lover and also a big fan of the topic you are dealing with on your blog! He has been collecting movie inserts with library scenes for some time (I think about 7 years now). He collects inserts from feature, short, and animated films as well as from TV series in which libraries and librarians appear. So far, he has managed to collect just over 1,700 inserts. He insists on finding original movies (if a movie can be found in digital form). Your blog is one of his main sources, along with IMDb.com, which he joyfully visits regularly!!

[Editor’s note: Below, you can see a collage of covers from the DVDs that Ljuba has put together of movie inserts with library scenes, which he entitles “Biblioteka u kadru” (“Library in the frame”). Neat!]

Collage of DVD covers from Ljuba’s “Biblioteka u kadru” (“Library in the frame”) project

Q: Is there anything else you’d like to share with Reel Librarians readers?

A: Thank you VERY much for all the movies you put on the lists/categories. Thank you for your insightful posts on your blog, and I hope you will be the world’s best known library & movie blog ever! Wish you good health and a lot of great movies! Ljuba and Tina send you all hugs and kisses 🙂

Ljuba and I also have a blog, too, called Tandara Mandara. It’s not about films; it features old serial publications (magazines and newspapers), like a vintage almanac. It is in Serbian, and you can browse past posts and categories on the left-hand menu. 

[Editor’s note: It’s a very visually interesting blog and pop culture record, and I especially enjoy that their blog’s tagline translates to: “Interesting facts about everything and everything, needed by anyone and everyone.]


Thank you, Tina and Ljuba, for sharing some of your life stories and projects with Reel Librarians readers! 🙂 🙂 🙂


If you would like to explore more posts about international librarians and movies, please also check out:

Author: Jennifer

Librarian, blogger, movie lover

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