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Delaware News

How a Tucson library director, born to immigrant parents, is now serving others

Soy la hija de inmigrantes (I am the daughter of immigrants). I remember it like it was yesterday. Arriving at our new home on Calle Acapulco and enjoying the hot Tucson sun. The first thing my mother did was put us in the shiny white bathtub to cool off. We were at home. I was 5 years old and my brother was 3 years old.

Those early years were difficult, especially for my parents. In Mexico, they held prestigious positions as bankers. “Ay apa, ya vas empezar (Oh, daddy, you start)”, I grumble, but listen intently as my father tells me a story (usually the same) from his days as a manager in Sonora. My father’s outpouring gives me a glimpse of what they left behind to come to the United States. And if I’m honest, it also breaks my heart a little.

To make ends meet, my parents worked a long series of random jobs. Many weekends you might find us at the swap meet, selling all sorts of things: gardening tools, Avon and Mary Kay products, toys, Mexican candies, lemon salads, and more. My father also worked as a dishwasher and then as a waiter in a Mexican restaurant. My mother had a newspaper route and an ice cream truck. For a long time, she was one of those ladies at the grocery store handing out samples. My father retired after working as a truck driver for over 20 years. My mother retired a little later to take care of my nephew. She had been a teaching assistant for over 25 years.

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I share this because sometimes we forget. Se nos olvida que (we forget that)… “There is no shame in our parents’ fight, they show us what courage, resilience and sacrifice look like. A veces se nos olvida (sometimes we forget) how privileged we are to receive an education, to have jobs that we enjoy, to have rights and resources that our parents did not have. Hay que ponernos las pilas y echarle ganas (we must take charge and try)» (selection of poems from “Mariposa” by Kim Guerra).

So that’s exactly what I did. I push the pilas and I got to work. First as a library assistant for the Tucson Unified School District, then as a substitute librarian for the Pima County Public Library while completing his library studies. Unfortunately, at the time I graduated, the Pima County Public Library was not hiring. I moved to Portland, Oregon and took my first professional job as a bilingual Youth Services Librarian at the Multnomah County Library. My stay in Oregon was magical, but the sangre lama (calls for blood) and I came home to be with my family and serve my community.

This year I’m celebrating 13 years at the Pima County Public Library and, as Alexis Rose from “Schitt’s Creek” would say, “Hm, I love this trip for me.” If you haven’t watched “Schitt’s Creek,” you’re missing out. The series almost single-handedly got me through COVID. It’s on par with “Game of Thrones”, except that it has nothing to do with it and the ending is much better and happy. If you need a little levity and hilarity in your life, do me a favor and check it out in the library (see what I did there?). And while I’m at it, here are a few other things I like about the library (this list is not exhaustive) besides the wonderful and caring library staff.

MyPCPL app: I not only put my book on hold, but also checked it with the app once it was delivered. My last favorite read was “After Hours on Milagro Street” by Angelina M. Lopez. I’m looking forward to the second installment in the series, “Full Moon Over Freedom.” Learn more at library.pima.gov/apps.

Libby – My most recent payment was “La Hacienda” by Isabel Cañas. Get information about Libby at tucne.ws/1o6m.

Seed Library – I am currently sowing flax, bachelorette and parsley, among others. Learn more at library.pima.gov/seedlibrary.

Frank De La Cruz Collection – This collection is housed at the Quincie Douglas Library, 1585 E. 36th St. Check it out. Learn more at library.pima.gov/frankdelacruz.

Tucson Landmarks: The Joel D. Valdez Main Library, located at 101 N. Stone Ave., is easily recognized by the red “Sonora” sculpture that stands in the front plaza. The main library houses the Cele Peterson Arizona Collection and the Steinheimer Collection as well as other publicly available resources. Video by Pascal Albright / Arizona Daily Star.

Pascal Albright

Paulina Aguirre-Clinch is a Library Services Manager and a member of several teams, including Many Nations, Nuestras Raíces, and Seed Library.


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