Monday, April 20, 2020

Posted By on Mon, Apr 20, 2020 at 4:56 PM

click to enlarge United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona Health and Public Policy Director Christina Cutshaw and her son pose with Oyama Elementary School Library Assistant Raquel Islava and Principal Tammy Christopherson. - UNITED WAY PHOTO
United Way photo
United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona Health and Public Policy Director Christina Cutshaw and her son pose with Oyama Elementary School Library Assistant Raquel Islava and Principal Tammy Christopherson.
Parents picking up homework for their young children at 14 schools across Tucson were recently handed a dozen brand new books to help get through the summer slump.

The literary surprise was the most recent installment of the United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona’s My Summer Library Program.

United Way Worldwide is an international nonprofit organization that works with community organizations, government agencies, educational institutions and charitable individuals to provide aid for community members in need.

That work is accomplished through a variety of partnerships and programs, including the summer library launched in Tucson ten years ago.

“Kids tend to lose a lot of their reading ability over the summer when they don’t have anybody reading to them,” said LaVonne Douville, executive vice president of United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona. “This simple intervention can really help kids be ready when they start school in the fall.”

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Friday, April 10, 2020

Posted By on Fri, Apr 10, 2020 at 2:09 PM

click to enlarge Make Way For Books' app provides free books for young children, along with literacy tips for their parents. The local nonprofit recently launched a Facebook story time series open to any family with young children. - COURTESY PHOTO
Courtesy photo
Make Way For Books' app provides free books for young children, along with literacy tips for their parents. The local nonprofit recently launched a Facebook story time series open to any family with young children.
With libraries and schools closed there are families across Pima County without reliable access to free or low-cost books, but adventures are available in the palm of your hand thanks to Make Way for Books’ smartphone app.

The literacy nonprofit works with families with young children ages 0 to 5 in order to empower them with the skills and confidence they need to be their child’s most important teacher, according to Fernando González, the Digital Director of Make Way for Books.

Too often, children enter kindergarten lacking important early literacy skills. Make Way for Books goes out into the community to provide programming so families can access high-quality literacy aid.

Normally, their work consists of a couple of strategies, including the Family Education and Literacy, The Story Project and Neighborhood School Readiness Project programs, which provide literacy aid both in and out of the home. The Story Project, for instance, includes at-home education, on-site workshops, and lending libraries.

According to González, Make Way for Books tries to provide a two-generational approach in which parents are there with their kids providing a reading lesson while also learning explicit strategies on how to share books with their children.

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Monday, February 3, 2020

Posted By on Mon, Feb 3, 2020 at 12:47 PM

click to enlarge Nancy E. Turner
Nancy E. Turner
On January 14, Tucson author Nancy E. Turner released her newest novel, Light Changes Everything. The historical fiction based in rural Arizona focuses on a young feminist in 1907 aiming for a better future. Light Changes Everything is a new take on the experiences of young women living in the Wild West. Turner, a University of Arizona alum, recently shared her inspiration behind protagonist Mary Pearl, a girl looking to attend college and stray from the norm of marriage, believing her value to be greater than that of only a housewife.

Light Changes Everything was published by St. Martin's, and is available at Barnes & Noble, Amazon and more.

What was your inspiration for the book?

The idea came because back in 1907, Arizona was not quite a state yet, it was pretty much just the wild west. I had an opinion on the people who lived there and how they lived. Women had a whole lot of rights that they did not have in-state, meaning they could own businesses, they could be the boss of things, they could make contracts and have bank accounts without having a father or a husband in charge of their lives. Whereas in the eastern states, if a girl married, she belonged to the man. They did not have the kind of right that a woman in a territory had, so I imagined a young woman from that year with the feeling that she was her own boss packing up her pistols and going off to school… Then I looked for where might she go to school and discovered that in 1906, Wheaton College in Illinois was the only institute of higher learning that was openly recruiting women students and I thought that would be a great place for her to go and meet the challenges of a completely different set of rules.

Are there any writing or storytelling techniques in this book that you feel you were unable to manage in your first book?

I think there was a lot more crafting as far as editorially putting together seeds that depicted the story as opposed to just telling a straight linear tale.

Your book alludes to much of Jane Austen’s work and her stance on feminism, how do you think you contributed to her ideas?

I think in terms of maybe giving someone something to think about, Jane Austen's books that I mentioned that were typical of the era where the women had to marry someone or they would starve, they were really in a fix and finding the right husband was key to their happiness. So my character Mary Pearl is absolutely determined that that's not what her life is going to be about. So I suppose if it contributes anything it may contribute some talking points for the opposite idea that a girl could amount to something without having a husband that they could depend on. It’s a little more modern take on it because in Arizona the women had so much freedom in those days that I think it would have been appropriate to the era.

Jane Austen was a big inspiration to your character as well. Who are some of your literary influences?

I would have to say that the very first book I ever read and that made me feel as if I wanted to become a writer and be able to do that was Truman Capote. The reason is those are two extremely different [Grass Harp, In Cold Blood] stories. One was a real life account of a murder and the other one was a beautiful, lyrical growing-up story about a boy who lives with two crazy old aunts, and it's so completely opposite and yet they're both so touching and gripping. I felt like his command of word is something I wanted to go for. I'm not saying that I come close to that, but I read a lot of different authors and particularly, I'd have to say Truman Capote, Barbara Kingsolver, Mark Twain and even Nathaniel Hawthorne are my most favorite writers. Their works stand the test of time and that truly is amazing… I always look for unsung heroes, especially women, who had to be strong against odds that people face today but we don't even realize how much strength it takes. I’m always, always impressed by women who are kind of going against the grain.

How do you think your novel differs from others' historical fictions?

I think it differs in that the main character is the narrator so it requires really getting into the mindset, the morality, social things of the time like a girl couldn’t contact a man, she’d have to wait to be asked… It’s a fictional character but everything is so heavily based on my research that I do believe it could have happened. It's not just a romance, it's not about romance, it's about personal growth.

Ana Teresa Espinoza is a University of Arizona journalism student and Tucson Local Media intern.

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Friday, January 24, 2020

Posted By on Fri, Jan 24, 2020 at 11:42 AM

We want YOU... to become a Bookbike volunteer!

Do you ♥ your Library? How about books, cycling, or helping your community? If you answered yes to any of these questions, Pima County Public Library has the perfect opportunity for you!

The Library's Bookbike gives out free books, library cards, and information about Library programs, as well as bike maps and information about bicycling events.

Our three Bookbike fleet operates within a five-mile radius of Joel D. Valdez Main Library, Sam Lena-South Tucson Library, and Eckstrom-Columbus Library. They go out on monthly visits to food truck stops, community organizations and housing, and even the Santa Cruz Farmer's Market! They also make stops at special events like the Tucson Festival of Books.

In our first eight years of operation (2012-2020), Bookbike staff and volunteers went to 1,213 events, rode 3,104 miles, talked to 75,483 people, and gave away 90,657 books!

Want to join us? Learn more at our next Bookbike Volunteer Orientations:

Saturday, February 1
Saturday, March 7

Both orientations are held from 8:30 to 9:30 am at Joel D. Valdez Main Library.

Call the Infoline at (520) 791-4010 or email to sign up or get more information. 

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Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Posted By on Wed, Jan 8, 2020 at 10:20 AM

Make friends and talk books at the Library's monthly Rainbow Reads!


Alternating between book chats and book clubs, this reading circle is held on the 3rd Sunday of the month at Woods Memorial Library at 3455 N. First Avenue (map). There will not be a program in March, but you can still get your book fix at the Tucson Festival of Books!


Please note this is a new location. The program was previously offered at Exo Roast Co.


Next up in Rainbow Reads?

Book Chat
Sunday, January 19 from 1 to 3 pm


Come ready to share your favorite LGBTQ+ books of all kinds. Gush about your selected book, then add more to your to-read list as others gush about theirs.


Book Club
Sunday, February 16 from 1 to 3 pm


Stop in for a facilitated discussion about Casey McQuiston's Red, White & Royal Blue, an "exquisite debut" (The New York Times Book Review) that Entertainment Weekly called "A fireworks in the sky, glitter in your hair joyous royal romance."


Can't join us in January or February? Don't worry... mark your calendars for other months (no program in March). All programs run from 1 to 3 pm.

April 19
Book Club:
In the Dream House

May 17
Book Chat

June 21
Book Club: These Witches Don't Burn

July 19
Book Chat

August 16
Book Club: Gender Queer

September 20
Book Chat

October 18
Book Club: We Have Always Been Here

November 15
Book Chat

December 20
Book Club: This Is How You Lose the Time War

While this is a queer-themed book club, readers across the gender and sexuality spectrum are welcome to attend and engage in fun, respectful dialogue. Light refreshments will be available.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Posted By on Tue, Nov 26, 2019 at 9:00 AM

The Tucson Museum of Art is celebrating the local launch of The Queen Next Door: An Intimate Portrait of Aretha Franklin by photojournalist Linda Solomon. The event features Solomon in person, plus a pop-up photo installation, book signing and conversation with the author.

Solomon wrote and photographed for The Queen Next Door over the course of four decades. The book features more than 200 exclusive photographs, plus a foreword by composer Burt Bacharach and an afterword by Aretha’s niece.

“I met Aretha in 1983. At this time I was a columnist with the Detroit News. I arranged with a producer of a local talk show in Detroit to come down and take one photograph of Aretha,” Solomon says. “I did a column about this first meeting and shortly after I received a message from Aretha inviting me to a private reception with her family at the Mayor’s residence in Detroit . She continued to invite me to private rehearsals with The Rolling Stones, James Brown and others.”

Solomon, a member of the Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame, has written and photographed for multiple books. She also founded the Pictures of Hope program, which supports homeless children, including those in Tucson, through the power of photography.

“My book shows Aretha’s realness and the photographs shows how she gave her heart and her soul to everything she did,” Solomon says. “The photographs are intimate, fun and express the heart of an international treasure.”

A Night With Aretha at the Tucson Museum of Art. Tuesday, Dec. 3. 6 to 8 p.m. 140 North Main Avenue. Free. For more information, visit

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Thursday, September 5, 2019

Posted By on Thu, Sep 5, 2019 at 3:46 PM

Have you read Jacob Tobia's (pronouns: they/them) national bestseller, Sissy: A Coming-of-Gender Story?

You really should!

Then join us on October 6 at Murphy-Wilmot Library (530 N. Wilmot Rd.) from 6 to 8 pm for an open and honest discussion about how we can build a world free from gender-based trauma and bursting with trans-inclusive feminism.
"A story of audacity and courage," (Billie Jean King), Sissy explores gender, stereotypes, and growing up not  sure if you're (a) a boy, (b) a girl, (c) something in between, or (d) all of the above.

Among their many remarkable achievements, Jacob is a member of the Forbes 30 Under 30 and the Out 100. They served as the Social Media Producer on the Emmy Award-winning series, Transparent and collaborated with Instagram and GLAAD to produce #KindComments, a campaign for Trans Day of Visibility that was viewed over 14 million times.

This event is brought to you by the Library's LGBTQ+ Services Team, which celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2018. It is generously funded by the Friends of the Pima County Public Library.

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Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Posted By on Wed, Jul 31, 2019 at 3:54 PM

Cover art of "Tucson Salvage." - COURTESY PHOTO
Courtesy photo
Cover art of "Tucson Salvage."
Join Pima County Public Library for a screening of Maggie Smith’s award-winning short film Tucson Salvage The Documentary, inspired by the book "Tucson Salvage" by Brian Jabas Smith. Following the film, Brian will perform a reading from his book and host a discussion.

Dusenberry-River Library, 5605 E. River Rd.
Saturday, August 17 from 3–4 p.m.

Brian Jabas Smith is an award-winning journalist, editor and the author of "Spent Saints & Other Stories" and "Tucson Salvage: Tales and Recollections from La Frontera." 

Maggie Smith is a filmmaker, writer, mother and human rights activist. She has adapted, co-written and executive produced the web series Spent Saints and co-written and directed the festival-winning documentary Tucson Salvage.

Tucson Salvage is based on Smith’s columns for the Tucson Weekly. Offering sharp, empathic commentary on diverse subjects, Smith channels the people not usually seen or valued in society, and in doing so, holds a mirror to us all. The Asheville Scene called it “an artful collection that reads like the diary of an observant poet.”

Tucson Salvage the Documentary is a 30-minute meditation on five humans profiled in Smith’s columns. Forged by adversity and united by humanity, the people in this documentary allow us to witness those we might never approach and hear them tell their own life stories.

Brian and Maggie have traveled across the United States stunning audiences at such well-known places as The Hudson Theatre in Los Angeles, Elliot Bay Bookstore in Seattle, Bookbeat in Detroit, and Malaprop’s Bookstore in Asheville.

This event is free and open to the public. Copies of "Tucson Salvage" will be available for sale. For more information visit or call Infoline at (520) 791-4010.

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Friday, July 26, 2019

Posted By on Fri, Jul 26, 2019 at 12:27 PM

Courtesy of Pima County Public Library
Reading while snuggled up to a dog is a wonderful way for kids to practice their reading skills. The Pima Animal Care Center is bringing a team of therapy dogs to Pima County Libraries to sit with kids while they read.

Kids are welcome to sit and read with a dog, practice reading aloud, sound out words, or just find joy in reading. Dogs will never judge, so kids can practice without worry of making a mistake. It gives kids the freedom and the enjoyment to begin a lifelong love of reading.

You can also read to your child while sitting with the dog if your child is not of reading age.

Read to a dog is a regular event held at participating Pima County Libraries. See the event schedule for dates, times, and locations.

When: Saturday, July 27, 2019
Where: Joel D. Valdez Main Library
Children's Room, 1st Floor
Time: 11 a.m. - Noon
(This event is recurring, see event schedule for other dates, times, and locations)

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Friday, May 31, 2019

Posted By on Fri, May 31, 2019 at 1:30 PM

Smartphones may take sharp pictures, but there's nothing quite like analog film. Kikie Wilkins, local film photographer, uses his film cameras loaded with new and expired film to capture ordinary and candid moments in Tucson. His new zine, Views from Tucson, Issue 2 is out now.

The photos in Issue 2 are all taken using his Kodak Brownie Hawkeye box camera. He described the camera as being meant for the amateur photographer "who was more interested in taking pictures of the family vacation or a child's birthday party."

"I decided to use the Hawkeye to take these photographs as a personal challenge to see what results could obtain from such a basic camera."

The combination of Wilkins' use of the Hawkeye and old film creates a sun bleached, dreamy image. The colors drift into dusty pastels and feel like they're from a different time. He photographs familiar landmarks, old cars, images of childhood.

This issue features views of the flooded Rillito river at the Camino de la Tierra crossing, the downtown jazz fiesta, some cars of Tucson and neighborhood views in a self-published book. The 44-page issue is printed in high quality color and black & white on gloss paper.

Issues can be picked up for $15 at Wooden Tooth Records at 426 E 7th Street, Tucson, AZ 85705, or ordered directly from Kikie for $12.

Instagram: @kikiewilkins

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