SAFFORD – Just like a fairy tale, the Safford City-Graham County Library has grown to be better and better with age.
It was 1916 when the Graham County Courthouse basement housed the very beginnings of the public library. The room where the books were held was called a “Woman’s Rest Room.” The room was primarily used for the ladies to relax while their men were upstairs and doing the business of the town. Over the years, the library has moved to five different buildings, growing exponentially every time it relocated.
Library Director Leanne McElroy told Gila Valley Central that the celebration planned for the library’s birthday will be simple, but everyone is invited. The birthday celebration will be Sept. 22 from 3-6 p.m. The birthday party will include children’s crafts, story times and guessing games. A timeline will be on display, including the history of the Gila Valley and the library.
“We are very proud of the library,” McElroy said. “Were going to keep it simple and fun. This library belongs to the entire community, so we’re inviting the entire community. We’re looking toward our 100th birthday, we realize that the staff that’s here is just a small part of what has put this library together. We want to put a shout out to anyone who was a staff (member), or volunteer or part active with the friends to attend.”
Brandon Nite, the Senior Library Technician, has worked at the library for eight years. Nite sees the library’s birthday as a celebration of community.
“The library has been a center of Safford and Graham County for the past 100 years,” Nite said. “We want to pay the public back with a celebration of their support and hand in making the library dynamic and engaging. Through the help of thousands of hands over the years, we’ve been able to make the Safford Library a place where people can meet others, bring in creative ideas and enjoy free access to learning and growth as a commonwealth. The help and heart of our citizens, patrons, volunteers and partnerships with local organizations have led us to where we are today.”
Over the course of 100 years, the library went from being several books in the basement of the courthouse to owning 44,002 books in its achieves. Not only does the library have a sizable book collection, but in the month of August, the library counted 99,477 hours of computer usage. Aside from its resources in its building, it is also a great source of information online. Roughly 6,000 individuals log on to the Safford Library’s website monthly. Just recently, the library premiered its online resources, such as tumble books for children, law resources and online tutoring. This past year, the library held a Karate demonstration in the middle of the library, and eventually the librarians intend to bring in a marching band. The sky is the limit for the Safford Library.