History and Fun for the Family at the Ocotillo Library
Realizing resources sometimes requires a little research. It can even require a bit of imagination. With summer coming, children out of school and everyone trying to find value wherever and whenever possible, one of the best and often overlooked resources is the public libraries around the Valley.
South Mountain’s Ocotillo Branch of the Phoenix Public Library system is easily one of the best resources for not only books, but activities, organized events and even a bit of Arizona history. Designed by Bennie Gonzales, the native Phoenician and graduate of Phoenix Union High School gained national recognition when his Paradise Valley home was featured in Life Magazine. His Uncle, a contractor for the Arizona Biltmore, provided him with his first exposure to building construction. Inspired at age eight by the experience, Gonzales decided then that architecture would be his profession. Returning to the Valley after joining the Coast Guard, he subsequently became one of the first registered Latino architects in Arizona.
Regarded as a visionary architect both locally and internationally, key features of his work are utilizing Southwestern influences merged with contemporary ones. Gonzales has been credited with bringing regionalism back into architectural design. It is a salient part of his work, along with using local materials and indigenous design principles as a way to keep construction costs from escalating. It is that mingling of the traditional with the contemporary that is evident in the arresting look of the Ocotillo Library, located on Southern Avenue, just west of Central Ave. With 100 of his buildings built in the Southwest and Saudi Arabia, Gonzales’ architectural resume includes The Scottsdale Conference Center, South Mountain Community College and numerous libraries and churches in Phoenix.
Beyond the distinctive look and history of the library are the programs and events that take place inside on a regular basis. While the main function of a public library is to offer reading material to the public, the goals and mission of the library have taken on a broader scope that not only encourages reading, but community interaction.
For civic groups, homeowner associations and individuals seeking a place to gather, a meeting area is available for rent. At $5 per hour it’s affordable and centrally located, making it popular place to hold meetings.
And in keeping with technology, audio/visual devices and internet access are at the ready. And, with so much information available on the internet, the library system offers a convenient, fast and child friendly location for everyone to surf the world wide web.
In an effort to encourage young people to become readers, American Express, along with support from the Friends of the Public Library and Harkens Theatres, have created a new program entitled “Shut Up and Read.” An incentive program for ages 12 to 19, participants can win toys, jewelry, snacks and other gifts by reading. Those that complete the program are eligible to win a $150 Best Buy gift card, plus an invitation to a private VIP party that concludes the program.
For younger children, “Read Your Way To The Ballpark,” is a similar reading program that turns the number of books read into prize-winning opportunities. Sponsored by The Arizona Republic, AZ Central.com and the Arizona Diamondbacks, young readers that finish the project will earn a free ticket to a Diamondbacks game, plus the chance to attend the Arizona Republic Baseball Kid’s Clinic.
With temperatures rising and children with time on their hands, Ocotillo Library has scheduled a number of activities collectively entitled, “Beat The Heat At Ocotillo” to keep children as young as three informed, entertained and hopefully out of trouble.
During the months of June and July programs are slated to encourage reading and offer hands-on interaction with musicians, magicians and even animals.
“Reptile Adventures,” which is open to all ages, offers young people exposure to captivity-reared, child-friendly creatures in a variety of sizes in a program that will introduce them to the inhabitants of our desert. On a musical note, “Nostotros” is a musical program featuring exposure to 12 instruments from South America.
For those with a desire for a more theatrical experience, “The PT Players,” a teen touring troupe of the Phoenix Theater will present an original play based on a children’s book. If you are seeking a storytelling experience, “Stories with Mother Goose,” comprises stories, magic and audience participation. If you’re fascinated by canines, “Doggies of the Wild West,” provides dog tricks and magic in a program suitable for all ages.
The “Beat The Heat,” program provides family friendly activities that are not only easily accessible but in most cases completely free, or at nominal cost, depending on the workshop.
For adults, young people and those that are seeking something to do or need an outlet, the Ocotillo Public Library is providing activities, workshops and events that expand the mind without stressing the wallet.
Ocotillo Branch Library, The Phoenix Public Library
102 W. Southern Ave.
Phoenix, Arizona 85041
General Information and Reference: 602-262-4636
Facts to Go: 602-256-3544