From the President: Because of You – Libraries Transform

By Sandy Edwards

I know that we all think we are in control of our lives, but I learned this past month, that our lives can change instantly. I was going to write my “Message from the President” in early June, and I had my article for the newsletter all figured out; I was going to write about meetings and programs that I attended at the ALA Annual Conference in Chicago. However, that all changed about six weeks ago. So, not only was I unable to write my June “Message from the President,” but I also had to make the difficult decision to not attend ALA. Instead, I’ve decided to share some news about Arizona libraries.

On Saturday, June 17, Dobson Ranch Library celebrated its 30th anniversary serving the residents of Mesa. The Dobson Ranch Library opened June 18, 1987. At the time, the design of the library was considered cutting-edge, with an open loft ceiling and exposed duct work, creative concrete pillars, beautiful light wood features, and neon signs. The library’s collection began with 87,000 volumes of books, 200 magazine subscriptions, and no audio or visual items at the time. The library never had a card catalog but it began with a computer pod in the center and a computer in the children’s area. It was open 47 hours per week, Tuesday through Saturday. Dobson Ranch Library now has 340,000 ebooks available to download, along with audio books, DVDs, and electronic magazines. It is currently open 60 hours per week, Monday through Saturday. It was recently remodeled to add study rooms, a wall to divide the children’s area, and a family restroom. Dobson Ranch is one of four library locations in Mesa.

Secretary of State Michele Reagan recently announced that the Arizona State Library, Archives, and Public Records will award $800,000 in grants throughout the state for various library projects. The grant money was made possible with federal funds from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Thirteen of the Arizona’s 15 counties received grant funding. Some of the projects funded by the grant program include: coding clubs and makerspaces, entrepreneurial centers, assistive technologies, STEM and STEAM programs, resources for early learners, cultural and historical projects, and many more. Read the complete list here.

Thousands of high-quality archival photographs and documents about the early history of the Grand Canyon will be made accessible to the public over the next two years through a new library project called One Hundred Years of Grand. The project comes just in time to mark the Grand Canyon National Park centennial on February 26, 2019. The project, recently awarded funding from the Library and Services Technology Act (LSTA), is endorsed by the Arizona Office of Tourism and is a collaboration between Arizona State University Library, Northern Arizona University Special Collections and Archives, and the Grand Canyon Museum, National Park Service.

We are deep into summer, and that means that my term as President is more than halfway over. I have really enjoyed my term, so far, and look forward to wrapping it up with a great Annual Conference in Mesa, October 25-27 at the Mesa Convention Center. I hope to see you there!

Sandy Edwards is AzLA President.


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