About the Library’s special collections

Physical Collections

Cele Peterson Arizona Collection

This collection features print and non-print materials of general and popular interest on the history, culture, politics, economy, peoples, languages, geography, and natural history of Arizona with an emphasis on Southern Arizona, Pima County, and the City of Tucson. See the Cele Peterson Arizona Collection in the catalog.

This collection is housed at the Joel D. Valdez Main Library.

Frank De La Cruz Collection

The Frank De La Cruz Collection focuses on U.S./Mexico Borderland history, culture and traditions. Coupled with an historical overview of the Mexican/Chicanx experience along the border, the collection also offers insight into the contemporary issues facing this community. Read more about the Frank De La Cruz Collection

This collection is housed at Quincie Douglas Library.

Heritage Collection

The Heritage Collection was developed in 2012, thanks to a $8,300 grant from the National Institute of Museum and Library Services. The collection was initially selected in consultation with the Oro Valley Historical Society. It features nonfiction materials on the history, archeology, culture, environment, and traditions of Arizona. New materials are added to this circulating collection each year. The collection was designed to encourage area residents to develop a sense of place, especially those residents who move to Arizona from other regions of the United States.

This collection is housed at the Oro Valley Library.

Local Author Collection

The Local Author Collection features donated books written by local Oro Valley residents and those of surrounding areas. This is a circulating collection, which must meet the general Collection Development guidelines.

This collection is housed at the Oro Valley Library.

Steinheimer Collection

The collection provides an unusual picture of Southwestern history, geography, and ethnology, focused through the unique prism of children's literature. It illustrates the development of the stereotypes of the Southwest and how those stereotypes were interpreted in children's books.

Romantic ideas of desperadoes, Spanish conquistadors, prospectors and wily coyotes sit side by side with concrete facts about cowboys, pioneers, Gila monsters, native arts and ethnic folklore.

The collection is named for Elizabeth B. Steinheimer, who passed away in 1979. Steniheimer's husband opened a bookstore in Tucson, and she became interested in children's literature, prompting mothers in the area to consult with her for selecting reading material for their children. She was a president of Libraries Limited, an organization that distributed books to children's state institutions. Steinheimer's friends and family donated $3,500.00 to the Library as a tribute, which was used to start the collection in 1980. The primary purpose of the collection at its founding was to aid teachers, researchers, or anyone studying children's literature.

Source: Arizona Daily Star, July 12, 1981, p. 90

See the Steinheimer Collection in the catalog.

This collection is housed at the Joel D. Valdez Main Library.

Trichloroethylene (TCE) Collection

Trichlorethylene (TCE), an industrial solvent, was routinely dumped in areas of South Tucson during the 1950s. The Tucsonans who lived in these areas have had various cancers as a result of this pollution. The Valencia Library, opens a new window has a Superfund collection on the TCE pollution.

Voices Unheard: Arizona's Environmental History. The Voices Unheard project aims to preserve the life stories of individuals who work and live near Superfund sites by using community-engaged oral history.

Read more about TCE

Online Collections

Perspectives of the Past - Pima County Oral History Project

To celebrate Arizona's centennial, the Library interviewed longtime residents to gain perspective on how our area has changed over the last 100 years. These oral histories preserve the stories of Pima County and connect us with our past. Listen to stories from local residents online at the Arizona Memory Project.

Sonoran Heritage - A Learning Library Program

The Sonoran Heritage Collection is a series of learning packets, materials and resources, media, and posters released in the late 1970s and early 1980s by the Tucson Public Library. This program was funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, and was designed to explore the history, culture, and peoples of the Sonoran desert region of Arizona and Mexico. Topics include "Clothes and Costumers," "Play," "Power," "Shelter," "Family," "Work," "Genius," and "Destiny."

Writers of the Purple Sage: Origins of a National Myth

Digitized collection of packets that explore the effects the myths, values, and stereotypes transmitted in the early popular literature of the region continue of have on literature and life in the Southwest. See Writers of the Purple Sage: Origins of a National Myth.

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