About Wheeler Taft Abbett, Sr. Branch Library

About Wheeler Taft Abbett, Sr. Branch Library

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About Wheeler Taft Abbett, Sr.

Portrait of Wheeler Taft Abbett, Sr.

Wheeler Taft Abbett, Sr.
June 7, 1923 — January 11, 2010

Mr. Abbett moved to Marana, Arizona in 1988 with his wife Charlyne and their family. He soon became actively involved in the community, contributing to the progress of the Marana area in many ways. The Abbetts’ generosity was extended to the Marana Food Bank, the Marana Health Center, the Pima Community College Nursing Program and the Pima County Public Library.

A graduate of Minnesota State University and the Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, Mr. Abbett’s working life led him to accomplishments in a variety of professions including the U.S. Merchant Marines, electronics engineer, avocado grower, and business owner. Along the way Mr. Abbett also worked in radio and raised appaloosa horses! His experience as vice chairman of a committee that worked for the redevelopment of downtown Long Beach, California proved invaluable to the Town of Marana Planning and Zoning Commission. He served as a member, then chairman, of that commission for many years.

Mr. Abbett explained his support for the library to the Arizona Daily Star (12/7/06) as another way to effect positive change for the community, especially the young people, saying, “Say that some guy or girl who had used the library makes somebody of themselves. Hopefully that will happen.”

The Abbetts were among the first residents of Continental Ranch and the library, located near that community, is named in honor of Mr. Wheeler Taft Abbett, Sr. in recognition of a $1 million contribution he made to purchase books for the new library.

Size, Collection and Features

The library is 20,000 square feet. It contains two full size community meeting rooms, two study rooms, a large Kid's Place, computer commons, and teen area.

The branch has 60,000+ items to serve the growing population of families and retirees in Marana and the surrounding areas. The collection includes magazines, books, a Spanish collection and large print books. A separate area for audio-visual materials, such as books on CD, music and DVDs is also available.

The Teen Area, set apart by screens, houses a collection of fiction, magazines and graphic novels. A Wii and a flat screen TV are available for use.

The Kid's Place houses a comprehensive collection of children's materials, including audiovisual materials, fiction and non-fiction titles. There are two (2) checkout stations in the Kid's Place, to make it easier for parents with children to check out materials. There are several learning centers aimed at helping younger children, toddlers and preschoolers develop pre-reading skills.

The branch has two self check-out stations in the main area, and one self check out station that meets ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) requirements.

The building's architects were Richärd + Bauer. The branch features two entire walls of glass windows that overlook the Santa Cruz River and the Town of Marana's Crossroads at Silverbell Park.

The sculpture near the entrance, entitled "Wondrous," was created by Creative Machines.

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Computers and WiFi

The Library offers FREE computer and wifi use. Please see Computers Available at Your Library or WiFi at Your Library for more information. Please be sure to bring your library card! Don't have a card?

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Meeting Rooms

Please call 594-5200 to reserve the meeting rooms. Please read our Meeting Room Policy (PDF). See meeting rooms available at other library locations.

Print out a Meeting Room Use Application (PDF).

Community Meeting Room
This room has 11 tables and accommodates 75. It is 1170 sq. ft., with a sink, 12 tables and 75 chairs. It is equipped with Induction Loop Technology to transmit sounds directly to a hearing aid's built-in wireless T-coil receiver.
Children's Meeting Room
This room is primarily used for Storytimes and other children's programming. It can accommodate 30. It is 1292 sq. ft., and has a sink, 8 tables and 30 chairs.

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Photos

Groundbreaking Ceremony
On December 7, 2006 the Pima County Public Library system celebrated the groundbreaking for the branch library. See photos of the groundbreaking.
Construction
See photographs taken during construction.
Photos on Flickr
Photos of the branch are also available on the library's Flickr site.

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Funding

This branch's construction came out of funds from a 2004 bond election, and the $1 million contribution by Mr. Abbett.

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Public Art

Wondrous

by Creative Machines Inc.

Photo of Wondrous sculpture

This artpiece consists of a long folded panel of galvanized steel and an intense light source that is active at night. The panel includes roughly 1000 words jammed together in a way that encourages your eye to wander through it, creating new meaning from existing sources. We chose phrases from a wide range of literature plus oral histories of the settlement of the Marana area. The words are roughly 74% English, 24% Spanish and 2% O'odham. While it was tempting to choose phrases that we like or to make up words, we thought it would be more interesting to choose sources based upon what works have been most printed and distributed historically, as measured by book sales, number of languages the book is translated into, etc. and loosely reflecting what makes up a modern American library collection. This means that Shakespeare is right in there with Danielle Steele, Cervantes, Dr. Spock, Lorca, EB White, Orwell and others are all included. Phrases from several Harry Potter books appear as do phrases from Harriet Beecher Stowe's hugely influential Uncle Tom's Cabin. While we found some wonderful histories from when the area around the library was settled by whites, we chose primarily words and phrases from the larger western culture. Our feeling is that the library is the one place that is our link beyond our local conditions. It is our primary source of connection to the rest of our civilization - a civilization that spans continents and centuries and has chosen the written word as one of its primary means of continuity.

We originally chose approximately 3000 words from these sources. We randomly each phrase to one of three fonts and one of five sizes. Then we arranged the words in a mostly random fashion, keeping what fit physically and leaving out what did not. We paid attention to the relative concentration of various parts of speech: articles, nouns, adjectives, verbs, adverbs, conjunctions and prepositions are distributed throughout so that it is possible for your eye to wander through the sculpture creating new meanings. And you eye will wander. Our visual and cognitive equipment desperately searches for order and will tolerate much visual ambiguity and fill in many blanks.

A seething field of words could describe my mind as I grew up, going to the library as a child and bringing back a stack of books as big as I could carry every week. I read from all sources and often had many books open at the same time. This continued through my university years. As a more fully educated adult, I realize that this seething field of words is the primary matter out of which I now create meaning for myself and it is what I must attach new meanings to if they are going to stick in my mind. I suspect many children today are similar. Computers and text messaging have made reading and writing as important as ever if not more so.

During the night, three of the world's most powerful LED's project intense colors through the words, casting overlapping shadows in six colors on the landscape around the sculpture and on visitors to the library. While there are many ways to understand this phenomena, some purely aesthetic, one interpretation is that we are inevitably imprinted by the words and phrases of the written culture that has come before us. These words inscribe themselves upon us even before we are aware of what is happening. Yet they strike each person differently and are always subject to rearrangement. Making our own sense of what came before us and leaving some of that behind is one of our primary jobs and sources of pleasure as human beings. The library is a great place where that happens.

Artists who worked on this sculpture: Joe O'Connell (principal designer, laser cutter operator), Adan Banuelos (design assistance and chief word arranger), Eric Gustafson (welding, metal fabrication), Renee Angle (help choosing phrases, especially Spanish)

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