Charlie Towzell special to the Arizona Daily Star
I love libraries and I love being a librarian. I have always had a passion for reading. As a native Tucson resident, I have been a patron of the Pima County Public Library since I was a child.
The first branch I was introduced to was the old main branch, which is now the Tucson Children’s Museum. My parents also took me to the Mission and Valencia branches quite often, where I attended stories and looked through the stacks. Then they seemed endless, places of wonder, places of magic.
As I got older, I discovered that I enjoyed writing. This in turn inspired me to be a songwriter and vocalist for several metal and hardcore bands in the Tucson area over the past three decades. These experiences in the music scene gave me an idea of how people working together can create a better place out of almost nothing.
These acts of community building and mutual aid had a profound impact on me, ultimately influencing me to pursue a career that promotes literature, education, and creativity.
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I recently became a public librarian after working for the last 15 years at the University of Arizona. While I loved working in a prestigious academic library, I realized that I could best serve my hometown by using my skills and passion for information sharing and literacy by working directly with my community.
Libraries are places where history resides, and on these shared shelves a deep understanding of our past can be made if you are willing to read the pages.
This rich history, this depth of diverse experience and perspective is what makes our physical and electronic collection so exciting to browse. No matter the subject, libraries are important places that help anchor our collective understanding and perceptions of the world.
I love what public libraries are all about. We offer spaces for education, recreation, relaxation, networking, safety, creativity and quiet, just to name a few of the attributes our diverse client base has come to appreciate in our spaces.
Chances are if you ask 50 people what they think of their local library, you’ll get the same number of responses. Our library can be a place for a teenager to do homework or for someone without internet access to use Wi-Fi. It can be a place to find that new bestseller or browse a stack of DVDs to binge on during the hot summer months.
Libraries are places to be alone and read, or places to gather with the community to hear poetry read or listen to live music. Libraries are places that help our community actualize the best version of themselves while building stronger connections with their neighbors.
I work at the Joyner-Green Valley branch; in this building I see a cross-section of the people who live in the area. If you were to visit and spend time at any of our other 26 branches, you would experience the diversity and uniqueness that make up each of these different neighborhoods.
At each location, library staff do their best to offer excellent service and create a welcoming environment for all who enter the doors.
There are no other places in our society that offer so many free services. In these uncertain and turbulent times, knowing that libraries exist as centers of stability and comfort for my community brings me a sense of happiness, and to be part of an organization that is rooted in true empathy and fair service for all, validates all these years I spent time in school and working in retail.
A few months ago I donned a cat in the hat costume at my branch while handing out new library cards to a large group of kindergarteners. For the children to see me in this silly costume offered a unique experience that made them see libraries as a place of wonder, a place of magic.
Directly engaging my community in small daily acts of positive change and personal growth is something that brings me joy. It gives me hope that I am helping to build the foundation for something brighter to come.
Charlie Towzell is the Children’s and Teens Librarian at Joyner-Green Valley Library. In his free time, he enjoys collecting records, studying history, and going to shows with friends. He also enjoys spending time with his two rescued dogs, Chewie and Han.