Surround yourself with kindness

This article, by D'andra Hamilton, was originally published in the Arizona Daily Star on May 19, 2024.

“I have always imagined that Paradise would be some kind of library.” – Jorge Luis Borges

“A library is a miracle. A place where you can learn just about anything, for free. A place where your mind can come alive.” – Josh Hanagarne

Have you ever felt like there’s no place for you to get basic assistance? Maybe you’re experiencing homelessness, maybe you’re unemployed, maybe you don’t have internet access, maybe all three, or maybe you just love to read. The public library, Pima County specifically, has always been a happy and welcoming environment for me—a place where I can exist at my own pace.

I’ve lived in Tucson my whole life and have been a patron of the library for most of that time. I would spend entire summers at Miller-Golf Links Library reading all day. Because books are such a big part of my life, I started working at Miller-Golf Links Library as a page in 2021. I felt happiest being around books and kind people. I have seen the library improve so much over the years. It is so much more than books now, which is one reason I’ve stayed, and now I am a Library Technical Assistant. This means I’m part of the Circulation Department for our branch where I am surrounded by other readers all day, just how I like it. When I come to work, I feel like there are so many things that I genuinely enjoy doing, like making booklists for our website, recommending authors I like, even helping someone in a crisis. I can’t imagine an atmosphere I would love more.

I’ve had a variety of jobs and never found a place that’s as inclusive and understanding as PCPL, for both staff and the public. I’d like to work here a long time because of that, and how much of a grand necessity we are to our community. With 27 locations, we reach a good portion of the county with our services. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to be an avid reader or longtime visitor to enjoy your visit to the public library. With computer classes, Job Help, Culture Passes, electronic resources, and public technology, there is a ton of free support available for everyone, regardless of age or background.

I am frequently asked why I still work at a library when everything is online now, but my answer is exactly that! Not everyone is tech-savvy, and living in our tech-driven society can be extremely overwhelming without help. There are a million times a day when patrons let us know how much we mean to them, and it never gets old. Being part of the Reference for Incarcerated Individuals team has also been very meaningful to me, as I have helped a lot of incarcerated people find information that they would not otherwise have access to. I’m currently studying sociology because of my experience working directly with the public in the library and everything it entails. It’s gratifying to go home at the end of the day, knowing we helped people feel safe, relaxed, and in control. Patrons often come in agitated or nervous and leave feeling relieved because they overcame what was stressing them out. There are also those who just use the library for books and conversation, which are my personal favorite interactions. Libraryfolk are some of the most brilliant, genuine, and accepting people I’ve ever met. It’s not just a big house of old, dusty books. Yes, we all say that, but it’s true! The library means everything to me and so many other people because surrounding yourself with kindness really changes your outlook on life and your own potential.

D'andra Hamilton will celebrate three years with Pima County Public Library in September. She currently works as a Library Technical Assistant at Miller-Golf Links Library, where her coworkers praise her for her patience, workplace energy, and compassion.