Librarian Files

Pima County Public Library--History

The Pima County Public Library (PCPL), which is headquartered in Tucson, Arizona, enriches lives and builds community through opportunities to learn, know, interact and grow. With 27 public libraries serving Tucson and the surrounding communities of Arivaca, Green Valley, Sahuarita, South Tucson, Ajo, Marana, Oro Valley and Catalina, PCPL provides a wide range of free services that contribute to the economic development of the community.


The PCPL system offers a variety of services for both children and adults. For children, storytimes are offered, including bilingual storytimes at some library locations. Children can improve their reading skills through our Read to a Dog program. Assistance with homework is also available online, by phone, and at specific library locations. Previous children's activities include El Dia de los Ninos/El Dia de los Libros, Story town, and the summer reading program.

PCPL also provides information on clubs, events, and opportunities available to teens. At PCPL, teens can participate on an advisory board as well as volunteer. Previous teen activities include a rock concert, gaming, and drawing and poetry contests.

For adults, a wide range of services are available. Libraries host book clubs, computer classes, author visits, English classes, citizenship classes, and assistance looking and applying for jobs. In August of 2010 J.A. Jance visited the Nanini Branch Library, and free music concerts were held at a number of libraries.

PCPL provides a wide range of services for the community. Their events are posted on the calendar. Further information is also available on their website.


The Pima County Public Library enriches lives and builds community through opportunities to learn, know, interact, and grow. Tucson’s first public library, originally called the Carnegie Free Library, was founded in 1883. The first library building was partially funded by Andrew Carnegie’s campaign to build public libraries in the late 19th century. Carnegie committed to paying up to $25,000 to build a new library on the condition that the City of Tucson supplied a building site and provided $2,000 per year to maintain the library. The Tucson Common Council made good on this deal by passing Resolution Number 20. This resolution earmarked $2,000 per year for library maintenance, and designated a site for the library. The site used constituted a portion of Military Plaza. 

Architect Henry Charles Trost was hired to build the new library, which was completed in June of 1901. The Carnegie Free Library, administered by the city of Tucson, was located at 200 South 6th Avenue. Initially, the library did not include a children’s room. This area was added after funds were raised in 1924. The library began with 2,000 volumes in 1891, but had grown to over 60,000 in 1942. A new 90,000 square foot facility opened downtown in May 1990. Today, this building is the Joel D. Valdez Main Library.

On January 7, 1957 the name of the Carnegie Free Library was changed to "Tucson Public Library" by the Tucson city council. This name was changed to the Tucson-Pima Public Library in 1990 when Pima County became more involved in the library’s operations. Finally, when Pima County took control of the library system in 2006, the library became the Pima County Public Library.

Today, the library includes 27 branches throughout Pima County. In addition to its Main and neighborhood branches, it offers a Bookmobile, Books-By-Mail, deposit collections, and a growing number of Virtual Library services online. For more information, please visit the library’s website at




Year Event
  • Main Library established, opening in Tucson City Hall
  • Andrew Carnegie pledges $25,000 to City of Tucson to build library
  • New Main Library dedicated at 200 South Sixth Avenue
  • Fire destroys dome over central portion of Main Library
  • Contract with Pima County for provision of county library services established
  • Ajo Branch Library opens in Ajo, Arizona
  • Bookmobile service begins in April
  • Major additions added to Main Library
  • Himmel Park Branch Library opens
  • Bookmobile service discontinued; two new book trailers placed in service (one remains by 1977)
  • Wilmot Branch Library opens
  • Bookmobile services resume in November
  • Friends of the Tucson Public Library organize
  • Woods Branch Library opens
  • Valencia Branch Library opens
  • El Rio Branch Library opens
  • Homebound service established
  • Library Administration
  • Technical Services move from Main Library to City Hall Annex
  • Library begins operation of Green Valley Library
  • Books by Mail service established
  • Governmental Reference Library opens in City Hall
  • Valencia Branch Library expanded
  • El Pueblo Library opens
  • Tel-a-Tale service established
  • Green Valley Library moves to County Government Center
  • Friends of the Pima-Green Valley Library established
  • South Tucson book trailer established in permanent location
  • Marana Library opens
  • Columbus Branch Library opens—TPL's first library using new CLSI circulation / inventory control system
  • Mission Branch Library opens
  • Nanini Branch Library opens
  • County Jail Library established
  • Main Library Annex opened in Scottish Rite Temple
  • Infoline Service established
  • Himmel Library expansion
  • Wilmot Branch Library expansion
  • City of Tucson passes $15 million dollar bond election for new Main Library
  • Permanent Sam Lena-South Tucson Library opens
  • Green Valley Library expanded, renamed Joyner-Green Valley Library
  • Nanini Branch Library expands
  • Dewhirst-Catalina Branch Library opens
  • New Main Library on N. Stone opens, consolidating Library Administration, Technical Services, Periodicals, and Government Reference
  • Permanent location of temporary Arivaca Library in mobile unit
  • Himmel Library major refurbishing through L.C. Powell campaign
  • Sam Lena-South Tucson Library expansion
  • Kirk-Bear Canyon Library opens
  • Dusenberry-River Center Library opens
  • City Bond Election includes $5.5 million for: renovations at Woods and Valencia, and a new Miller Golf Links Library
  • County Jail Library expands
  • Dewhirst-Catalina Library relocates
  • Arson fire at Sam Lena-South Tucson Library
  • Tucson Public Library officially renamed Tucson-Pima Public Library
  • Marana Library expands
  • CLSI/Geac system discontinued. Begin operations on Innovative Interfaces, Inc.
  • Ajo Library relocates across town plaza
  • Caviglia-Arivaca Branch Library opens in permanent facility
  • Valencia Library relocates to begin major renovation
  • Woods Library relocates to begin major renovation
  • Ajo Branch Library renamed Salazar-Ajo Branch Library
  • Friends of the Arivaca Library established
  • Pima County Bond Election includes $5,250,000 for Amphitheater School District/ Library joint-use school-public library (later used for the Oro Valley Library—an affiliate), a mid-town Tucson library, library facilities at the Kino Community Center, and expansion and improvements at South Tucson and Marana.
  • El Rio Library relocated in slightly larger quarters in Neighborhood Center renovation.
  • Groundbreaking for Miller-Golf Links Library
  • Friends of the Kirk-Bear Canyon Library established
  • Tucson-Pima Library Foundation established
  • Valencia and Woods leave temporary quarters, returning to newly renovated facilities
  • Miller-Golf Links Branch Library opens.
  • Salazar-Ajo Branch Library expands into adjacent storefront location
  • Complications with Amphi School site leads Pima County Board of Supervisors to relocate the planned northwest library to the Town Oro Valley municipal center site
  • City Bond election approved and includes $5.5 million for library projects: expansion of Miller-Golf Links to 15,000 SF; 10,000 SF full service library at Quincie Douglas Center; 7,000 SF library and learning center at midtown location.
  • Groundbreaking for Santa Rosa Learning Center Library
  • Town of Oro Valley groundbreaking for an affiliate Library
  • South Tucson expansion
  • Green Valley expansion
  • Juvenile Detention Center Library opens
  • Nanini Library refurbished
  • Santa Rosa Learning Center Library opens
  • Southwest Library opens
  • Oro Valley Library opens as TPPL affiliate
  • El Pueblo Library relocates in center to larger facility
  • Teen Resource Center opens at Main
  • Self-check system installed at Main, Woods Nanini and Green Valley
  • Main Library renamed for Joel D. Valdez
  • Main Library plaza redesigned; Jacome Plaza dedication
  • Golf Links expansion completed
  • City approved renaming Midtown to the Martha Cooper Branch Library and Learning Center
  • Self-check system installed at Columbus, Golf Links, River, Valencia, and Bear Canyon branches Installed computer self-management software, pay printing software and filter choice software for public access
  • Quincie Douglas groundbreaking
  • Bear Canyon expansion groundbreaking
  • Martha Cooper Midtown groundbreaking
  • Bear Canyon expansion completed, 11,000—15,000 sq. ft.
  • Quincie Douglas Branch opened, 10,000 sq. ft.
  • Abbett-Marana Branch planning
  • Flowing Wells Branch planning
  • Virtual Branch Library established
  • On-line Homework Help initiated
  • IGA signed for City/County transition
  • Wilmot Branch 40th Anniversary celebration along with the renaming to the Lewis C. Murphy Memorial Wilmot Branch
  • Soft opening of Martha Cooper Branch
  • Renaming of Dan Eckstrom Columbus Branch Library
  • Abbett Marana Branch groundbreaking
  • Flowing Wells groundbreaking
  • June - Wheeler Taft Abbett Sr. Branch Library opened, 20,000 sq ft.
  • August – Opening of Flowing Wells Branch, 5,000 sq ft.
  • Implemented new phone system
  • January – Sahuarita Express Branch Library opened, 2,000 sq ft
  • February – Renovated and expanded to 20,000 sq ft. Murphy-Wilmot Library re-opens
  • July - Oro Valley Library joins PCPL as a branch
  • June - Renovated and expanded to 15,000 sq. ft. Eckstrom-Columbus Branch Library re-opens

Library Directors

Year Director
  • Nellie Pomeroy, Librarian
  • Jennie H. Batte, Librarian
  • Mary D. Breathitt, Librarian
  • Gertrude E. Burt, Head Librarian
  • John F. Anderson, Library Director
  • Frank Van Zanten, Library Director
  • Elizabeth Ohm, Acting Director
  • John F. Anderson, Library Director
  • Marcia King, Library Director
  • Liz R. Miller, Library Director
  • Agnes M. Griffen, Library Director
  • Betsy Stunz-Hall, Interim Director
  • Nancy Ledeboer, Library Director
  • Melinda Cervantes, Library Director



  • "Chronology of Library". Pima County Public Library Administration, 2008.
  • "City library director plans to resign, cites burnout." Arizona Daily Star. June 19, 1991
  • "Councilmen rechristen the library." Arizona Daily Star. January 8, 1957. Page B1 and Staff notes.
  • "County settle two lawsuits, buys flood-damaged home." Arizona Daily Star. November 15, 2006.

Article tagged with: pima county public library, pcpl, tucson-pima public library, tppl, tucson public library, tpl, public library, tucson, carnegie, trost, children's museum, military plaza

Last Update: 9-12-2014 1:53pm

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