Finding my place at my library

This article by Library Associate Amy Morris was originally published in the Arizona Daily Star, opens a new window on Sept. 9, 2014.

Seven years ago I moved to Tucson from the Detroit area. Shortly after, I came into the Dusenberry-River Library to see what was there and to see about getting my library card along with my niece, Alicia, who was going into the first grade that fall.

Like a lot of people, I got my library card before I got my Arizona driver’s license.

When I was a child, our town’s library was downstairs in the city hall basement, next to the police department. I was in high school when they upgraded the library to a beautiful 2-story building, which was a dream! My mom and I used to take Alicia to the library for storytimes or to just get a book.

My niece once told me, “Amy, I got my bookwormness from you,” which was one of the highest compliments I’ve gotten.

For us, the library had always been a place that we could go together, like Starbucks. Soon after getting acquainted with the library and Tucson, we got to know the Dusenberry-River Library staff. Alicia would talk to Meg, the children’s librarian, who always was so good with her. They would talk about what she liked to read and what she should read next. I was getting my teaching credentials, and I would talk to Meg about books that would correlate with the curriculum. After I completed my student teaching, however, I realized that traditional teaching was not for me so I looked into other fields. When I worked at Sylvan as a tutor, I enjoyed teaching reading comprehension and being there when a child “got it.”

Guess where I ended up turning back to? One of the first places where I felt at home. One of my places: My library.

Most people don’t realize how many capes library staff wear on a daily basis. I’ve been at the Flowing Wells Library for over a year and a half, and have to say it’s a job that I totally enjoy.

I work on the teen programming and create book displays that I think (and hope) our teens will really like. I also help people with a variety of things. We have great patrons who come from many walks of life. Some are between homes, and the majority of our customers come from white-collar and blue-collar backgrounds. Questions can range from anything to everything: Where are the books about seals? How can I get an income tax form? How do I attach a résumé in an email? Where do you get items notarized? How do you print, scan and fax information? Where and when is the closest ESL or GED class?

Why is Hotmail not working?

We also have done awareness and service projects at the Flowing Wells Library, which involve all ages from young children to adults.

One event that has always been close to my heart has been the annual Bullying Prevention and Dwarfism Awareness Event that we started last October. We had a good turnout at our little branch. In fact, we’re in the midst of planning a similar event for Oct. 14 at 4 p.m. As someone who has dealt with bullying as a kid, as well as being a little person/dwarf, I am really passionate about getting more awareness and communication open on all sides. Last year we invited Jessica Simmons, who created the initiative and website called, “My Kindness Counts,” to our event. Jessica is part of the national movement committed to reducing violence in our country called “It Can Happen Here.” She also is a representative of The Fund for Civility, Respect and Understanding: End of Bullying project, which was started by Ron Barber and his family after the Tucson shooting. The teens that were involved participated in the presentation with Jessica and were really open about situations they go through, which was really neat to see!

The kids felt more comfortable to share, and they felt listened to.

Today, Alicia is in the 8th grade. Whenever she needs a book for Social Studies or Language Arts, she texts me to request certain titles or books. I’m also her go-to e-book help person. Oh, the benefits of having an aunt who works at the library!

The great thing about the library is that it is a place where all people feel comfortable and welcome. I’ve been in different cities from LA, to Northville, Michigan, to Nashville, and I have always found that to be true. When I moved to Tucson, I hoped to find the same thing.

Now being here, becoming part of the fabric of the library, it means much more to me.

Amy Morris, a Library Associate at the Flowing Wells Library, enjoys swimming and eating great food. She also is the Tucson chapter president of Little People of America. Right now she’s reading Debbie Macomber’s Love Letters and The World According to Bob: The Further Adventures of One Man and His Streetwise Cat by James Bowen.