Point them toward the library

This article, by Niccolo Giambanco, was originally published in the Arizona Daily Star on March 17, 2024.

You never know when you’ll get the call.

It was 2022. I was two years out of college, and I felt like a quail in the road.

I was ready… how ready I was! Yet nothing came for me. There was no firm that was going to hunt me down and give me money just for being me. So, I moved back to Tucson, in with my mom, and I did—well, nothing.

I got so used to nothing I began looking for it, and soon I was finding tons of nothing, day-after-day. And it was starting to get expensive: everything I tried in hopes of finding myself was still sitting on my credit card, watching me with great interest. 

I did what every graduate does: applied for a range of jobs for which I was not qualified. “Entry-level” positions requiring years of experience that I did not have, years that no one was about to give me. All I got back was silence.

The only reply came from Pima County Public Library, where I had applied to be a library associate. I worked in a library while I attended university in Tempe, and I recalled going to Storytime as a kid at the Wilmot and Bear Canyon libraries, where my two favorite songs were The Wheels on the Bus and God Bless America

Something seemed nice about it, but it took a while to hear back. I assumed it was just a bit too nice for me. 

At that point, I gave up on money. I just wanted to work. I wanted there to be a point to all the nothing I had just done. I wanted there to be a point to me, being on this Earth.

So, like any All-American boy, I turned to baseball.

I applied to do anything, anywhere. I wrote cover letter after cover letter explaining that it was my lifelong dream to drag a rake across the infield dirt in Peoria. I was hired as an usher for the Arizona Diamondbacks. The pay was nothing, the hours were nothing, and it was a two-hour drive away. But there was nothing else.

I used up every friend’s couch in the Valley. I had no money for gas, or a place, but I figured I would at least be doing something. And there would be baseball. As luck would have it, I spent my first game tucked within the bowels of Chase Field, being trained on how to use… an elevator. 

That night, I quit. It wasn’t the right ballpark. The next morning, I got the call.

“Hello Niccolo, I am calling about the library associate position. Are you still interested?”

“Yes I am.”

“Great! You start Monday.”

In the nearly two years that have passed since then, the Library has been vital to my personal and professional development. Despite my notions of how the world worked, it has given me the best opportunity to find success.

I work with individuals who put hard work into serving their communities. I have built professional experience in a field that I had never considered.  My work has led me to new connections and opened doors outside of the library.

I have discovered a passion for storytelling and sharing history with younger generations. I love using stories to teach and celebrate history, and seeing how these celebrations bring communities together. My work allows me to challenge the notion that history divides us and has taught me that understanding between people starts with having fun.

If you know a young person who is struggling with taking their first steps professionally, point towards the library. Working here has helped me build confidence and plan my future, and I wish these blessings and opportunities on as many others as I can. It’s an avenue you may not know is open to you, and I’m pretty sure Joel D. Valdez Main is the only branch with an elevator.

Niccolo Giambanco is a Library Associate at Murphy-Wilmot Library. In his spare time, he devotes his time to a creative project called Arizona Gothic—an art movement centered around the unique character and history of our state. He is a lifelong New York Yankees fan.