Beyond books: Check out all the library offers

This column, part of the monthly Heavy Metal Librarian series, originally ran in the Get Out! section of the Green Valley News on January 15, 2024. The series is authored by Charlie Touseull, Tween/Teen Librarian at Sahuarita Library. 

One of the things that brings me the most joy when I am working the front desk at my library is meeting all of the families who come in to sign up for library cards. Around this time of the year, in the midst of our mild Sonoran winter, when kids are out of school and families take time off of work to spend together, there are more families passing through our doors than usual. It is always a pleasure to meet these new patrons and warmly welcome them to the public library.

As a librarian, one of the many aspects I love about my job is sharing the many awesome things that libraries can do for the communities that we serve. One of the times that I get to openly proselytize that joy is when I sign someone up for a new library card. 

Sometimes, when setting up a library card, I get to welcome back a patron who has not used our services in decades, other times it is new families to the area. My favorite interactions are when I get to give them the whole rundown of all of the interesting things that they may not know about what the public library can do for them.

So, I would like to share with you some of the things that you may not know about what the public library does, and how it can help you with those New Year’s resolutions you may either be publicly or privately professing, as 2024 quietly picks up momentum. 

One of the coolest things that you my not know is that you can borrow an actual full-sized telescope from my branch in Sahuarita! It’s an Orion StarBlast 4.5 inch telescope that is totally free to borrow. It is a perfect hands-on way to learn about astronomy and the wonders of the night sky. Kids of all ages love pondering the mysteries of the constellations and planets. Make plans and come down and check it out.

In case you are one of those people who are busy and do not have time to read a physical book, another cool thing that the library provides for free is access to Libby and Hoopla. These are apps that give you free access to tens of thousands of audiobooks, ebooks and periodicals. Audiobooks are perfect for those who are busy but like to listen to stuff on their headphones or in their cars.

Personally I love audio books. Since I walk my dogs everyday and commute to Sahuarita five days a week from Tucson, I have lots of time to listen to audiobooks on my phone. Recently I have listened to Silver Nitrate by Silvia Moreno-Garcia and Biography of a Phantom: A Robert Johnson Blues Odyssey by Robert McCormick.   

In order to best navigate those massive databases, I recommend installing the apps on your smart phone and/or computer, if you are able, as well as the free Pima County Public Library app MyPCPL. That will give you full access to our catalog, as well as access to the plethora of the other electronic resources that we offer.

Those electronic resources include free access to genealogy databases like, and you can even learn a new language through services like Pimsleur and Pronunciator. So, if you are planning to dig into your family history and track down some relatives you never knew you had, or if you are looking to learn a new language, the public library has the tools to get you started on your journey.  

Since our winters here are so mild compared to other parts of the country, it is the perfect time to plan out a garden for the spring and summer months. What better time to take advantage of the vast seed library at the library?! With your library card you can take home 10 packs of seeds per month. We have everything from flowers, to beans, vegtables to fruit in our seed library. We even have handy planting guides that will assist you in planting and give you tips about what you should be sowing now. The seed library is the perfect way to seed your garden. The libraries also have lots of books that can assist you with water-harvesting and xeriscaping, so that you can grow beautiful things in the desert but not waste too much water in doing so.

Do you ever want to venture out and explore different cultural spots but sometimes worry about the cost of admission? Not to worry, the library also offers free cultural passes that allows you and a friend free admission to art museums, botanical gardens, and other beautiful spots not only in the Tucson metro area, but also in the Phoenix area as well. Just go to your local branch and inquire about our Culture Pass program. The most popular passes our branch checks out is for the Reid Park Zoo and the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, and the Tucson Botanical Gardens.

You can also use your library card to access free streaming movies. Using the Kanopy app, you can use your TV or computer to stream films on your time. If you do not have access to wifi at home, not to worry, the library has a huge collection of DVDs. The collection is loaded with everything from the newest action blockbusters, to PBS documentaries.

If you are like me, and love cooking and looking for new recipes, you can expand your palate by checking out cookbooks from the library. So, if you were interested in exploring vegan food for Veganuary this year, come check out all of our cookbooks! 

Libraries are one of the things that you can always count on to be there for you when you need it. Our services will always be free and serve our communities as best as they can.

Library people are always happy to greet you, and if you need some assistance we are always excited to help you find that new mystery novel that you have been wanting to read, or to find those resources that can help you to become a better version of yourself. 

Libraries are community spots that thrive from your involvement and input. Let’s make this year better than last.  Come on by and say hello.