Libraries aren't just for books anymore - Tucson News Now

Libraries aren't just for books anymore

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Pima County is on the verge of approving a $750,000 construction contract to expand the Eckstrom/Columbus library.

It just took control of the Oro Valley library in early summer bringing now 27 libraries under its control.

It just finished an upgrade on the Wilmot Library Branch.

The county's library budget is $25 million.

The library district tax rate is 34 cents per $100.

We all pay for the system.

But the system has outgrown the stuffy reputation of being all about books.

"We provide a wide range of services," says Mary Sanchez, the branch manager at Eckstrom at 22nd and Broadway.

Her branch will expand from 11,000 square feet to 16,000 square feet.

"We'll go from 16 computers all the way up to 52," she says.

44 of them will be for general use, six for teenagers and six for children.

The modern library has moved past the "reserved" place for books to a full function, full service neighborhood center.

It has literacy classes, citizenship classes, job search help, adult education, children's reading classes, and on and on through a long list.

"Libraries are living and breathing and expanding all the time," she says.

The wait for a computer can be more than an hour and a half. The time limit per computer is 45 minutes.

"That may change as we add computers," she says.

Each library sets its time limits based on use and availability.

And demand has increased.

"In hard economic times, people are using libraries more than ever before," she says.

Many people can't afford computer hook ups so the country provides it for free.

Wi-fi is also free.

The library will close September 10th for two weeks and then re-open in a temporary location down the street for the next nine months.

Pima County has five million users and climbing ever year.

Meeting rooms will be added to accommodate non profits and others looking for space.

"Libraries are adapting to the communities wants and needs," Sanchez says.


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