Conversations that matter at the library

This article by Librarian Matt Landon was originally published in the Arizona Daily Star on Apr. 20, 2019.

Your public library is a place to hear new things about timely topics and to engage with others who share your curiosity and passion.

I plan programs at Joel D. Valdez Main Library, where I work as a librarian. I’m encouraged every day by what I see happening here. People are attending lectures, having conversations, asking questions, and getting involved.

Just like our customers, I am curious and passionate, so my job gives me the opportunity to meet others who crave knowledge and seek change.

When I started here in 2009, I coordinated a documentary film series that included post-film discussions. This past year, I worked on a series of climate change talks and a series of humanities lectures and community conversations, as well as a panel presentation on Pima County’s eviction problem.

My goal has always been to provide a space and time for people looking to do good work in the community. There’s an added bonus for me: the relationships I’ve gained by meeting and working with such dedicated folks.

I tend to target all ages when planning new programming. I am interested in current issues from the perspective of someone keen on making a difference in the community and I’ve been pleased to see a great youth turnout at some of my events. The library is here for people of all ages who want to gather information, to share their ideas, and to access the experts on a particular topic. I want people to come back from my programs empowered to live their life a little bit differently than before they participated.
The climate change talks were made possible by a partnership with the Citizen’s Climate Lobby and the University of Arizona Institute of the Environment. One of the things I really enjoyed is that each talk included table presentations by active youth groups.

One of those groups was Ironwood Tree Experience (ITE), a teen-focused, place-based nonprofit where Tucson youth get outside and practice environmental stewardship projects that connect them to one another and their community. My two daughters have been involved with ITE for much of their young lives. It’s an incredible organization and I was happy to have them at the library engaging with like-minded customers.

Another project I really enjoyed working on was an event series sponsored by Arizona Humanities. University professors gave lectures and facilitated conversations on the topics of energy policy, climate and moral responsibility, and the criminal justice system, as well as a remarkable lecture about African-American pioneers of Tucson. In each case, I met a fascinating presenter and had conversations with interested and interesting people from our community.

Go to and search the event calendar. Your library is a place where you can share your interests and connect with people. Pima County Public Library is intent on fostering community conversations about issues and ideas that matter to you. If you are passionate about an issue, strike up a conversation with your local librarian, perhaps there can be an event or program for you.

Matt Landon has been with Pima County Public Library for 15 years. For the past 10 years, he’s worked at Joel D. Valdez Main Library. He is passionate about social justice, but also enjoys poetry, gothic literature, and consciousness studies.