This article, by Sila Gonzales, was originally published in the Arizona Daily Star on October 16, 2022.
Can you imagine what our lives would be like if public libraries weren't accessible to everyone or worse, didn't exist? For many people in our community, libraries might as well not exist or are not on their list of places to frequent. We have so many things going on in all our branches, including guest speakers, classes, computers, and that's not to mention our vast book collections, magazines, newspapers, music, movies, free internet, and let us not forget the air conditioning on those hot Tucson days.
This is a call and an extended invitation to our beloved community in Pima County. Please include your local library in your list of places to check out. For example, you can spend your day using our facilities or taking advantage of our many services. Maybe you can stop by your favorite coffee shop to grab a drink on your way to the library to pick up a book and read it in one of our comfortable chairs, or what about streaming some music or watching movies using our free online services. You see, these are only a few great reasons to come to the library.
We all know how our lives changed during and after the Covid-19 pandemic. During that time, people were not able to use the actual library facilities, making it difficult for someone to ask for help from us or to investigate available library resources. This brought forth an uncertainty for library users and library staff. Looking back on those months, I can remember how difficult it was for many of us not to know where our patrons would go now that libraries were closed. There was a genuine concern for the people in our community that use our libraries to escape the sweltering heat on summer days.
So, that's when we found our way to still serving our community by making it easier to get a library card using our library's website, adding virtual appointments for job seekers, and having more presence on social media as a way to connect with our community.
Later on, even when we couldn't open the library, we were still there for the community, offering curbside pick-up services, snacks, and in some branches, food boxes. But guess what? Now, things are getting a lot better, and libraries are coming back to normal (well, a new normal)!
Many branches like Eckstrom-Columbus, Miller-Golf Links, Oro Valley, Sam Lena-South Tucson, and Valencia are open on Saturdays. We currently have many in-person programs like Job Help, which assists patrons in their job search, job applications, and interviews. Things have also changed in the job industry; some companies require only online applications and virtual interviews. For example, if you need to make your resume and attach a digital copy to your application and don't know how to do it. Don't worry; we got you, or if you have a virtual job interview, we will help you with some tips and IT assistance that will help you in your performance.
Now libraries brought back English classes, one-on-one computer assistance, Storytime, workshops, and more! Actually, let me tell you that you are surrounded by 27 libraries throughout Pima County, and we will be more than happy to see you!
So, next time you are wondering where you can go or if there is any place that offers free entertainment, different workshops, and resources, consider your Pima County Library as a welcoming space for you and your family!
Sila Gonzales is a librarian at Eckstrom-Columbus Library. She is a member of the Library’s Adult Services, Many Nations, and Nuestras Raíces teams. She has been praised by her coworkers for her adaptability, cultural competency, and customer service.