You serve our community, so the Pima County Library serves you

July 20, 2019.

    Since the spring of 2018, I have been working as the Grants & Nonprofits librarian at the Joel D. Valdez Main Library downtown.

I’ve had experience writing and receiving grants and working with nonprofits, but this is the first time I’ve worked in a position dedicated to helping customers working with nonprofits looking to accomplish these goals. It’s exciting to do this work on a full-time basis.

Many Pima County residents may not be aware of all the services our library systems offer free of charge for grant seekers and nonprofits. I’d like to introduce you to just some of the services you can find when you visit your downtown library.

  • A wide variety of indispensable online tools, opens a new window, including The Foundation Directory Online, Foundation Grants to Individuals, and the Arizona Guide to Grants databases.
  • One-on-one interactions with professional and knowledgeable library staff.
  • Dozens of free programs, opens a new window like Business and Nonprofit Legal Help, Social Media Consultation for Businesses & Nonprofits, Diversity, Inclusion & Conflict Workshop.
  • Meeting space, opens a new window that anyone can reserve at no cost. In fact, did you know that at Joel D. Valdez Main Library we have five meeting rooms that together hold more than 200 people?
  • Plus, we even have 15-minute appointments for a consultation with a professional lawyer again, free of charge!

After more than one year in this position, I am still humbled every day by the amazing work of the Tucson and Pima County nonprofit community. Did you know that Tucson has the highest per-capita number of nonprofit organizations in the U.S.? Although one could view this as a glass-half-empty, glass-half-full situation, I prefer to focus on the fact that this demonstrates the compassionate and philanthropic nature of the people who live in Southern Arizona.

As a Tucson native who has also lived briefly in Washington state and for a longer period of time in northeastern Pennsylvania, I can vouch for this compassionate nature of my hometown and its inhabitants. As far as I can remember (1960s, now I’m dating myself), this has always been the case.

Customers who attend our programs for nonprofits represent so many critical areas in this line of work: veterans’ issues, child welfare, historical societies, artists and arts organizations, animal welfare, LGBTQ+ groups, faith-based, homeowners associations, and more.

It’s clear to me that the library is providing a much-needed service to the community. Since I’ve been here we’ve helped educate people on increasing donations through direct mail, building transparency in their organizations, beating burnout, running a nonprofit, ways to keep board members happy and engaged, and proposal writing. You may not believe it, but these are just a sampling of the programs that we’ve offered since January 2019!


Our last Grants Open Lab class in June had 18 attendees, which may be the highest number we’ve ever recorded for this monthly presentation.

Attendance numbers for our grant-related programs are usually the highest of all of our program statistics, which again demonstrates the community’s need for programming in this area.

The bulk of our nonprofit services are offered at the Joel D. Valdez Main Library, but we also serve the nonprofit community in a space at the new Community Foundation (CF) Campus. We’re thrilled to have a presence there where staff can dedicate themselves solely to the needs of the nonprofit community.

So spread the word, and stop by the Main Library or the CF Campus to say “hi” and let us know how we can help you. If you’re involved in a nonprofit organization, you’re already serving our community, and your county library system is here to serve you!

Wayne Wheeler is a Grants & Nonprofits librarian at the Joel D. Valdez Main Library. He has worked in numerous positions at libraries in Arizona and Pennsylvania, including a children’s librarian, a reference librarian, and a program instructor. In his spare time, he enjoys traveling, listening to classic country music and singing in the Reveille Men’s Chorus.

As of July 1, 2020, the Library no longer has a space as the Community Foundation Campus.