Association for Rural and Small Libraries Conference – 2021

Joyce Baker, Library Manager, Coolidge Public Library

The fall is always an exciting time because I look forward to the Association for Rural and Small Libraries (ARSL) Conference. I am incredibly grateful to the Arizona State Library for funding this valuable continuing education. The conference met in Reno, NV this year. While I was apprehensive about going to an in-person conference, I was extremely impressed with precautions taken by both the hotel and the ARSL leadership.

I learned something valuable at every workshop, but the pre-conference workshop stood out to me. It was titled, The Post-Pandemic Library: What Will be Different? This workshop was led by Lauren Stara, an architect and librarian. She is a Library Building Specialist for the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners. She focused on how libraries can create a space that provides patrons with vital access to resources yet remains a safe space for all who use the library. She highlighted some activities that libraries implemented during COVID but can probably discontinue such as:

  • Quarantining materials.
  • Frantically scrubbing down spaces after every patron uses it.
  • Limiting access to paper materials such as newspapers and magazines.

She also identified some activities that libraries instituted during the pandemic that they should probably continue to do such as:

  • Limiting the number of people who can participate during in-person programs.
  • Maintaining some distance between computer stations.
  • Offering some programs virtually for those who are not comfortable returning to the library.
  • Keeping some type of safe barrier between patrons and staff.

Lastly she emphasized some things libraries need to start if they aren’t already doing it. These changes will actually INCREASE safety for staff and patrons. Recommendations:

  • Adding HEPA filtration to heating and cooling systems.
  • If libraries are not able to add HEPA filtration to the cooling system, then at least circulate air by adding fans with HEPA filters behind the staff desks.

I want to turn this information into a staff project. Ask staff 1) what one thing did the library introduce that you would like to keep; 2) what one thing are you so READY to stop doing; 3) what one thing are you indifferent to keeping?

The other highlight of the conference was two Keynote speakers. I heard Qian Julie Wang, author of Beautiful Country, tell her story of moving from China to the United States when she was seven-years-old. It was very touching. I immediately put her book on hold and can’t wait to read it. I understand why it has been on the best-sellers list for so long! The other heartrending Keynote presentation was the Latinx Photography Project. They recruited amateur photographers in numerous Latin countries to share their art. The end result was an incredibly stirring video and book that told the stories of the photographers. I hope to be able to bring this program to our community in Coolidge. I think it would resonate well with our residents.

I always return from this conference with a list of ideas to implement in our library. It is without a doubt worth the time to attend!

San Tan Valley Public Library is now open to the public

Pinal County is pleased to announce that the new Public Library in San Tan Valley will open its doors to the public at 10 am on Tuesday, August 10th, 2021.

Located at: 31505 N Schnepf Rd, San Tan Valley, AZ 85140

Phone: (520) 866-8035

The library will feature over 20,000 items for loan – from books for kids, teens, and adults as well as movies, digital media, and even board games. All the books are brand new, and highlights include a robust collection of young adult books, classic literature, as well as popular materials, and a selection reaffirming the great diversity of Arizona.

The San Tan Valley Library will offer programming for all ages, and staff are eager to bring more services and programs to the community. The San Tan Valley Library is the latest library to abstain from charging fines for late materials, so residents can breathe easily.

Library cards are free for Pinal County residents, who will just need to present photo identification showing current address (or a utility bill or school mail with current ID).

Pinal County District 2 Supervisor Mike Goodman expressed his delight with the library on the verge of opening its doors to the residents of San Tan Valley, 
“Expanding our public library services into San Tan Valley has been in the works for some time. We are excited for this new chapter and consider it a solid stepping stone in the right direction by providing more services and amenities to the area. We look forward to seeing the community come together and utilize the space as a place of gathering and growth!”

Pinal County Library District Director Alex Conrad added,
I am grateful to all of our team, both here within the Library and across our County departments, for helping to make this vision a reality. We can’t wait to finally be able to bring library services to San Tan Valley.”

Erik Surber will be managing the San Tan Valley library and says staff look forward to serving the residents of San Tan Valley, 
“I’m drawn to San Tan Valley because it is energized, youthful, and growing so quickly. We strive to be worthy of such a wonderful and vibrant community.”

Library Hours

Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday 10 am – 6 pm
Friday and Saturday 9 am – 5 pm
Closed on Sunday and Monday

Summer Reading Program 2021

Join us for Tails and Tales. It’s our 2021 Summer Reading Program!  It’s happening online and at select libraries throughout Pinal County.

2021-CSLP-Web-Banners_Children_1The benefits of summer reading programming for children:

  • Children are motivated to read.
  • Children develop positive attitudes about reading, books, and the library.
  • Children maintain their reading skills during summer vacation.
  • Children have access to experiences that further their sense of discovery.
  • Children have access to experiences through which they can learn to work cooperatively.

Buckle Up!

Because we are going on a Reading Road Trip! Pinal County Library District presents Checkers Library TV for our 2021 Summer Reading Program.

Checkers the Inventor and his spunky sidekick, Snoozer the robot are traveling in their flying van to zoos, aquariums, wildlife rescues and meeting famous animals from across the world! Each 30 minute episode throughout June is packed with adventure, animal book reviews and recommendations, a craft completed during the show, and animated escapades! Checkers and Snoozer will meet animals, learn about them and most importantly, read about them!

Check out our list of books for Tails and Tales.

To watch the Reading road Trip Videos and download the craft and activities pages, visit us at:

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First Things First honors Danielle Duran as its Champion for Young Children

First Things First recognizes Danielle Duran at the Coolidge Public Library, as the 2021 First Things First Pinal Region Champion for Young Children.

The award is given to local champions who actively volunteer their time to raise public awareness of the importance of early childhood development and health. Champions spend a significant amount of time volunteering with Arizona’s early childhood agency, First Things First (FTF), and building public awareness about the importance of early childhood issues.

Duran, known in the community as Miss Dani, is a Librarian at the Coolidge Public Library and has volunteered with FTF to raise awareness of the importance of early childhood education in the community.  She will be recognized at the May FTF Pinal Regional Council meeting. 

A lifelong Coolidge resident, Duran’s dedication to her community is obvious.

“I’m severely invested in this town,” she said. ““Growing up in this town, you really see and know what’s going on in the community and what kids have to deal with.  I want to help it be the best that it can be in any way I can.”

Duran’s dedication is evident in the creativity, enthusiasm and love she brings to her role at the Coolidge Public Library, where she runs a variety of programs, including Story Time, Tween Titans and is now in charge of teen programming as well. Additionally, Duran serves as the face of the Coolidge library at outreach events where she leads community members in engaging activites that help them connect to their library and learn how it can serve them.

As a Champion for early childhood, Duran doesn’t see her role as serving families alone, she also actively works to grow community investment in supporting young children through helping to train others in ways to support early childhood efforts including  a virtual story time where local leaders read to young children online.

Duran believes bringing that engagement in early childhood builds a legacy. She states that teaching young children how important they are to their community is an investment that will pay back when those children grow up.

 “When you build [these supports] and you build it young, it has a lasting impression,” she said.

While supporting Coolidge Head Start and Minibears Preschool, Duran saw the positive impact that early childhood programs offered and understood that not all children have the access to benefit from them. She modeled her story time program to fill in some of those gaps for children.

Duran has sought to increase literacy tools for preschool-aged children, in addition to her collaboration with others, said Joyce Baker, Coolidge Public Library manager.

“She found partners like the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension and First Things First to enhance services to families of preschoolers,” she said.

Duran’s story time, which is in partnership with FTF, helps to inform families of young children about resources available to them. Each week parents and caregivers learn about supportive local resources and feel empowered as their child’s first teacher, in addition to cultivating of love of reading and learning through stories and song.

Since the pandemic, Duran increased programming to meet the needs of families, balancing both safety and the importance of community engagement through online programming. Duran has collaborated with FTF to host Chicka Chicka Zoom Zoom, a multi-library online event where families pick-up free resource bags with activities and information to use during the library’s online story time. Additionally, she has been an important voice in planning the last two Week of the Young Child” programs, an annual event that celebrates the importance of connecting and educating young children.

Duran jokes that when she first started working for the library in 2010, her friends thought it was an ill-fit, saying, “you’re so loud and full of energy.”

Indeed, Duran’s excitement and energy fills a room, but she sees this as a perfect fit for the library.

“The library isn’t what people stereotypically think it is,” Duran said. “It’s a community hub where people grow and engage with one another.”

About First Things First — As Arizona’s early childhood agency, First Things First funds early learning, family support and children’s preventive health services to help kids be successful once they enter kindergarten. Decisions about how those funds are spent are made by local councils staffed by community volunteers. To learn more, visit

David’s Comics Picks for March, 2021

There are so many new exciting comics out this year and you can read them online with your Pinal County Library District card via the hoopla app. Below are just a few of the titles I am most excited about:

Reckless by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips for Image Comics.

This artist/writer team is unstoppable, having released a few stand alone graphic novels over the past year. After completing the Criminal series, Reckless is their new outing and it does not disappoint. In this first volume, Ethan, former undercover FBI operative takes a turn as a hired PI/ problem solver. When he gets mixed-up again with an old girlfriend, trouble ensues. Set in 1980s Southern California, this exciting story has the feel of a 1970s pulp novel.

Wonder Woman Dead Earth by Daniel Johnson from DC Comics.

Writer/Artist Daniel Johnson brings you a tour-de-force of action comics set in a post-apocalyptic setting. After waking up from a long sleep, Diana Prince discovers Earth has been reduced to a nuclear wasteland. She must fight titanic monsters in order to discover the secrets of the dead planet. My favorite part is when she finds the remains of Superman and uses his spine as a weapon in a fight. Truly a superhero comic like no other set in a sci-fi/ fantasy landscape.

Nubia: Real One by LL McKinney and Robyn Smith from DC Comics.

A fascinating comic in that it looks like an independent/ alternative comic and yet it’s published by DC. Nubia is a superhero comic, but more so it’s young adult fiction that deals with issues of race and identity. It’s a story about embracing oneself instead of apologizing for it. Nubia is in the pantheon of DC characters, going back to 1973 as Wonder Woman’s secret black twin sister. However, this new approach requires no background of other DC characters or events. Recommended.

2021 Youth Media Awards

Congratulations to the 2021 Youth Media Awards have been announced. We have copies of all these titles in our catalog, available to request.

List of Caldecott Winners
List of Newbery Medal Winners
List of Coretta Scott King Award Winners
List of Printz Award Winners

When You Trap a Tiger,” written by Tae Keller, is the 2021 Newbery Medal winner. The book is published by Random House Children’s Books, a division of Penguin Random House.

We Are Water Protectors,” illustrated by Michaela Goade is the 2021 Caldecott Medal winner. The book was written by Carole Lindstrom and published by Roaring Brook Press, a division of Holtzbrinck Publishing Holdings.

Before the Ever After,” written by Jacqueline Woodson, is the King Author Book winner. The book is published by Nancy Paulsen Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.  

R-E-S-P-E-C-T: Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul,” illustrated by Frank Morrison, is the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Book winner. The book is written by Carole Boston Weatherford and published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing Division.

Everything Sad Is Untrue (a true story),” by Daniel Nayeri, is the 2021 Printz Award winner. The book is published by Arthur A. Levine, an imprint of Levine Querido.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is on Monday, January 18th

Don’t forget to celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. day on Monday, January 18th with some of these wonderfully insightful picture books. See the full list in our catalog.

Martin Luther King, Jr’s dreams, speeches, and ideas are as relevant today as ever.  Learn about his important role in the Civil Rights Movement and how he fought peacefully for equal rights for all.  Share one of these books with someone you love.

You can also check out ebooks on Martin Luther King Jr. via the hoopla app.

New releases and more!

As 2020 is coming to a close, we encourage you to check out some of the exciting titles we have added to our catalog this past year. We’ve compiled a few lists of books that have come out in 2020. Click the links below to view the lists via our online catalog where you can place requests to pick-up items at your local library.

Popular Adult Fiction from 2020

Popular Young Adult fiction 2020

Popular Movies on DVD 2020

Meanwhile, Mr. Library from Pinal County reads some of his favorite children’s books classics from his collection. Happy New Year everyone!

Movies on hoopla

Did you know that your Pinal County Library District card gives you access to over 13,000 streaming movies through hoopla? Our library system offers you 8 borrows per month from this vast selection. These digital borrows will reset every month and you can borrow more than one title at a time. Videos are available for 72 hours after you check them out. Out of monthly borrows? Use the heart icon to save a title for later

Hoopla can be accessed from a desktop computer or via the mobile app by downloading it from google play or the app store.

Our outreach librarian, David, has selected five offbeat films he has recently enjoyed that are currently available through hoopla.

My Boyfriend’s Back. In this movie from 1993, directed by Bob Ballaban, a teenager comes back from the dead in order to try and win the affection of the most beautiful girl in school. This is a teenage comedy unlike any other, with a quirky directing style that is somewhere between a 1970’s Disney live-action film and Night of the Living Dead.

The Stuff. This 1985 film by Larry Cohen is a difficult movie to categorize. A spin on Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Cohen’s vision is part horror, part comedy and part science-fiction! “The Stuff” is a mysterious, gooey and delicious substance that begins oozing from the Earth’s surface and is soon marketed as a new dessert product. However, the popular dessert begins taking over consumer’s minds while making them crave more of it. This is a very entertaining movie that slyly makes a commentary on consumer culture.

Elvis Meets Nixon. This made-for-tv movie from 1997, directed by Allan Arkush, is based on real-life incidents. The story chronicles an older Elvis Presley, who was determined to become a federal marshal under the DEA. Along the way he meets The President, in late 1970. It’s a funny journey about the meeting of two unlikely friends amidst the changing cultural landscape in America and the swinging 60’s hippy era.

Ghost World. This comedy/drama from 2001, directed by Terry Zwigoff was based on the graphic novel by alternative comix creator Daniel Clowes. Ghost World was originally a series of vignettes serialized in Clowes’ Eightball comics published by Fantagraphics in the 1990s. The film ties these story elements into a somewhat different story, with a slightly different tone – although equally as enjoyable. This was an early role for Scarlett Johansson who would go on to greater fame. The story follows two teenager girls, who have problems relating to people, after they finish High School. They pull a prank on an older man named Seymour, who is an even bigger social outsider than they are. This only complicates their life further and things in their town become even stranger than expected. An essential story for anyone who has ever felt like an outsider.

Minnie & Moskowitz, 1971. John Cassavettes’ movies as an auteur are an acquired taste that often feel improvisational in comparison to mainstream cinema. But if you are looking for something different, look no further. This is one of his more enjoyable features about two weirdo characters who fall in love. Minnie, a museum curator who is disillusioned with life, meets a crazy parking attendant named Seymour. It’s slow-paced and subversive, but worth the effort if you’re a cinephile and looking for some emotional and provocative performances.

David’s Sci-Fi Comics picks for November

I’ve enjoyed reading these recent graphic novels for mature readers by Koren Shadmi that are available on hoopla.  I first became aware of Shadmi’s work through his excellent biographical tales of Rod Serling and Gary Gygax.  However, I found that Shadmi’s original stories set in a futuristic landscapes were even more powerful than those books.

Bionic by Koren Shadmi.  2020, IDW Publishing.

Bionic is a coming-of-age story with science fiction elements. Victor, a nerdy teenager falls for a gorgeous new student at his school, Patricia.  She works at the mall’s pet store and gifts him an android cat.   While she is friendly to him, he doesn’t seem to stand a chance romantically.  But then she is hit by a speeding car.  When she returns from the hospital with astonishing new robotic parts, both their lives will be changed forever.  She is no longer the traditional beauty, but Victor doesn’t seem to mind her augmentations.  Has the surgery affected her brain?  Patricia begins dangerously acting out.  When the two do finally get together, she ends up breaking his hand with her super strength.  What were the mysterious circumstances for her accident?  And will Victor suffer the same fate as a result of technology?  This was a gripping and unusual graphic novel in both the story and visual style.  I’d recommend it to fans of Kick-Ass or other genre defying comics.

Highwayman by Koren Shadmi.  2019, IDW Publishing

A short tale about the end of the world follows several episodes in the life of the last man alive, a drifter who cannot die: The Highwayman! Forever on the move, Highwayman travels through the vastness of North America searching for the source of his condition. He suffers from a strange, seemingly incurable disease: immortality. Bound to the road and at the mercy of whomever will give him a ride, he encounters people who reflect the rapidly changing world around him. Moving through centuries of change, he gets picked up by hitchhikers and gets discovered by aliens.

Complete Comic Book Series worth reading on hoopla

Do you love comic book series where you can get heavily invested in character development and interesting plot twists? Below are some more riveting science fiction series, available in their entirety, that you can read online with your Pinal County Library Card via the hoopla app.

Paper Girls by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Cliff Chiang, Matthew Wilson.
Published by Image.

Paper Girls follows the story of four 12-year-old newspaper delivery girls caught up in the conflict between two warring factions of time travelers! A mix of science fiction and nostalgia, this is an exciting read for both older teens and adults. It is also slated to be adapted for television.

Y: The Last Man by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Pia Guerra. Published by Vertigo.

Y: The Last Man is a post-apocalyptic science fiction comic book series by Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra published by Vertigo from 2002 through 2008. The series centers on Yorick Brown and his pet Capuchin monkey Ampersand, the only males who survived the apparent global androcide. This comic book (originally 60 issues) is for adults and is as thrilling and complex as a Stephen King novel.