Too much free time led to a career I love

This article, by Hassael Cazesuz, was originally published in the Arizona Daily Star on August 16, 2020.

At the start of summer 2008 I remember my mother thought I had “too much free time.” I had just finished my sophomore year of high school, and I could not be more delighted about spending my days lounging around and doing a whole lot of nothing.

As the saying goes, though, mother knows best. That is how I ended up volunteering at the Southwest Library, at walking distance from my home.

As a volunteer, I learned the Dewey Decimal system and how to shelve books correctly. I became familiar with the layout of the branch and enjoyed the welcoming feel of the library. At the end of the summer, the manager at the time offered me a paid position. I was hired as a Page, which is the entry-level job at Pima County Public Library. Turns out volunteering wasn’t a bad idea after all, gracias mamá.

I worked at Southwest Library for seven years. I made lasting friendships with many wonderful people, who influenced and motivated me to continue pursuing my education and grow into a library career. My ambitions grew and an opportunity presented itself.  

In January of 2015, I applied for and was offered a position as a Library Technical Assistant at Flowing Wells Library. While the title sounds technical (I mean, it does have the word in it!), I work more directly with the circulation of the Library’s collection, which tops 1.1 million items! I work with the flow of incoming and outgoing materials, as well as the primary software that we use to keep track of our collection.

Maybe this doesn’t sound too exciting yet, but consider this—I get the pleasure of opening the new material that the library purchases almost on a daily basis! And I’ll tell you, there is nothing like the feeling of processing a crisp, clean new book. Honestly, most of the books I read come from the materials I process.

Bonus! When I’m not filling my own reading list, I get to participate on Library affinity teams that support and encourage the diverse communities here in Pima County. These teams are just one of the ways the Library strives to be inclusive and equitable to everyone.

Currently, I’m proud to be working with the Nuestras Raíces team to address the Latinx and Spanish speaking communities. It is my true calling. Being a Chicano myself, I am passionate to work with and support communities of color.

One of the many things we do is make sure Library information available in English is translated correctly in Spanish. I work with colleagues to make sure the translations accurately reflect our region’s dialect. We do not take this task lightly. Knowledge is power and there is no shortage of resources that we offer that don’t benefit all library cardholders.

I wholeheartedly believe that upon finishing my undergraduate degree in Spanish from Arizona State University, I will pursue a Master’s degree in Library Science so that I can become a librarian. It’s funny because when I first started college, I wanted to study medicine. While practicing medicine intrigues me, I believe that working with my community is just as fulfilling.

When I look back in my life, I realize that libraries were a big part of my upbringing. My mother has always loved reading. As a child, she and my father constantly read to me and my sister, in English and Spanish. Every new town we moved to, the library was the first place we would go. Being a child and handed your own library card is one of the most exciting gifts a curious young mind can receive.

After 12 years working for the Library, I am still just as excited as I was when I first volunteered back in that summer of 2008. I guess mi mamá did know best.

Hassael Cazesuz currently works at Quincie Douglas Library. His colleagues have praised him for his extreme helpfulness, leadership, kindness, and generosity. He is a member of the Library’s Tech Liaisons and Nuestras Raíces teams.