The Library is not just where I work, it is my family

This article by Marissa Rodriguez was originally published in the Arizona Daily Star on November 17, 2019.

Pima County Public Library has always been my home. I am a born-and-raised Tucsonan who has loved the Library from an early age. As a child, my family attended many Library events. As a teen, I volunteered at Himmel Park Library helping with the Summer Reading Program. I saw firsthand how the Library was an enjoyable, safe, and warm place for families to grow.

In college, I worked at Martha Cooper Library. This Library saw me through graduation and a short time as a special education teacher. I enjoyed working with the public, helping them find books, resources, and answering computer questions. I especially loved helping with Storytime. I am shy and introverted by nature, so it fascinated me to see the way staff interacted with children and families in such a positive, outgoing way. That sense of community was a beautiful sight to see.

After two years as a special education teacher, I made the difficult decision to leave teaching. My experience taught me that, though I have a passion for education, the traditional school setting was not for me. This is what drove me back to the Library, and I was lucky enough to get a full-time position at Murphy-Wilmot Library.

I don’t think many people can say that they adore their job, but I certainly can. Every day, I get to work with amazing people who passionately provide their community with the information and resources it needs. Not just books, but computers, meeting and study rooms, e-resources, Storytimes, special programs, seeds, Culture Passes, books clubs and so much more.

I get to work with a wonderful community of people who regularly visit Murphy-Wilmot Library. Every Friday afternoon, we offer a Hong-Kong Mahjong group for adults. The group is made up of wonderful people from very diverse backgrounds. I enjoy hearing their stories, laughing, and snacking as we play a few rounds of the game.

I also get to work with children and families at Bilingual Babytime and Bilingual Toddler+Storytime every Thursday morning. This is, by far, my favorite part of the job. I love watching the children grow and make progress, and sharing stories with their families. These stories don’t just come from the books we read, but from the memories we make together at the Library.

These programs also let me educate in a way that resonates with me. I have seen babies go from tummy-time to running around the room. Families become friends and go to lunch together after Storytime. Spanish-speaking families come in and feel comfortable and safe, because they’ve found a community at the Library. English-speaking families grow their Spanish language skills through the songs and stories we share. Shy children open up and make friends. Rambunctious children listen to entire books and then check them out to read at home.

The Library is not just where I work, it is my family. My coworkers and patrons are why I love my job. I value the connections, partnerships, and friendships I’ve made. Pima County Public Library has given me knowledge and guidance, but also inspired my love and passion for this community.

Library Associate Marisa Rodriguez has worked for Pima County Public Library since 2010. In addition to running weekly Bilingual Storytimes, she serves on the Library’s Nuestra Raíces and Welcome to America teams. Outside of work, she enjoys spending time with her family and two pitbulls, Shaya and Dodge.

Interested in attending Bilingual Storytimes? You can find them at Murphy-Wilmot Library and Nanini Library. Check out the schedule!