In 1977, a South Tucson book trailer established a permanent location to serve the community’s library needs. Nearly 10 years later, in 1986, the permanent Sam Lena-South Tucson library opened.
The library was expanded in 1991, adding 1,500 square feet and creating a 4,777 square-foot library. The expansion was completed with funding from interest earned from Pima County’s 1986 bond program.
The library was remodeled in 2018. A new entrance was added off the City of Tucson Dan Eckstrom Plaza, the children's room and youth spaces were expanded, new study rooms were created, a new community meeting room was added, and the service desk and book drop were both upgraded.
The library is named in honor of Sam Lena (1921-1996), a longtime South Tucson politician and former member of the Pima County Board of Supervisors, who advocated for the funding for the permanent building.