Writing allows me to explore the landscape of my life. Intellectual curiosity is an important element of my life’s landscape.
Working in college and research libraries gave me the luxury of indulging my curiosity almost any time. My library reference skills are a valuable asset. Maximum service is my reference service philosophy: Do everything possible with available resources.
“Mr. Dennis,” said Sadri, a skinny, dark haired, young student from Iran, “I heard in CBS news last night. Banisadr is in prison. How can I know?”
Abdulhassan Banisadr was elected president of the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1980, following the revolution to overthrow the Shah. Concerned about their families at home, Iranian students at Taft College followed carefully the news from their country. They kept track of the political situation by watching the CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite every evening.
To answer Sadri’s question, I checked that morning’s Los Angeles Times. Finding no mention of the incident, many of my library colleagues would have stopped at that. But, I had not exhausted available resources. I picked up the phone and called the CBS affiliate in Bakersfield. They were no help. I called CBS in Los Angeles. Again, no help. Next, I called Directory Assistance in New York asking for the number for the CBS Evening News.
I dialed the number. “Good morning. CBS,” a female voice said.
“I need to verify a story reported on last night’s Evening News,” I said.
“One moment, please,” said the receptionist. I waited, briefly, while the extension rang.
“CBS News,” the next receptionist said. I explained, again, the purpose of my call.
“Please hold,” said the receptionist. Another extension rang.
“Mr. Cronkite’s office,” a woman’s voice said.
“I need to verify a story reported on last night’s program,” I said, trying to recover from the shock of being so close to Walter Cronkite.
“Yes, of course,” she said. “I’ll pull the script. Please hold.”
“Thank you, I said.
“Here it is,” said the woman returning to the line. She read the report from the script. I thanked her with reverence.
I reported my findings to Sadri. He was pleased. I felt good. I used all of the available resources and answered the question.
I researched anything of interest to me. Some searches arose from reference questions, others came from my own interests and reading. A question arising in a conversation sent me to find an answer. A quotation sent me on a search for its source. Sometimes, it was simple curiosity and a desire to learn something I didn’t know. Working in college libraries for nearly forty years served me well, making a significant contribution to the landscape of my life. I loved the library environment and flourished in it.