Intellectual Curiosity

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.

0 thoughts on “Intellectual Curiosity

  1. iola

    You never know how far you can go or how much information you can find if you stop on the first try. Motto for my life.
    Enjoyed your post very much.
    I too have a love for libraries everywhere. When we would move to a new town there were two places I scouted out, where was the library and the best grocery store. Food for mind and body.

  2. Terry Redman

    Dennis, would that I had taken the time to learn more resources of the library while teaching research to my students and exploring on my own. I like the narrative you tell. Have a good day–see you Saturday?

  3. Annis

    Precisely why whenever a question is asked in our writing group (or anywhere you’re around), we know that an answer will be forth-coming. Your friends love this intellectual curiosity and relentless researching that are part of you. Thank you for adding to our knowledge base. xoA

  4. Donnee Patrese

    My first job was in a library and I have worked in several libraries my whole life. My daughters are always ripe with questions and when they ask they feel mommy should know the answer. If I don’t know the answer I find it. I hunt it down until I do. My family always call me when they need to know something. They call me a walking encyclopedia. Oh now probably the walking Google. Great Post.

  5. Anna Stewart

    It’s not so much the curiosity but the dogged determination that impresses me. Wow. I (and probably most people) have questions and matters of curiosity that pop to the brain from time to time…and I might do a quick internet search or something…but mostly I let the matter pass. I wish I was more like you. I enjoyed the post. 🙂

  6. Joan Raymond

    Many times for my school classes I have to do extensive research. I won’t use Wikipedia and I try to rely on Google searches or academic sources. Recently I had to find the differences in French, Italian, Spanish and Dutch Baroque painter’s styles. I didn’t have much luck online, so I called the Getty Museum. They didn’t have anyone to help me and referred me to Christies (art auctions) in Los Angeles. They in turn referred me to their corporate offices in New York. They also told me no one could help, and referred me to a library.
    I decided to call the local Bakersfield Art Museum, who also apologized and referred me to the library. By this time, I had run out of time to finish the assignment and needed a quick answer.
    I decided to re-research the internet using different search questions and finally found my answer.
    I didn’t give up, and kept going even during the frustration of art museums telling me they couldn’t help.
    I wish I had been able to access your Intellectual Curiosity. I’m guessing we could have found the answers much easier.


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