Writer Julie Carlson checks in at the Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records

Genalogy_section_ State-Library-of_Arizona

Centennial Anniversary: Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records 

By Julie Carlson

Libraries are a haven for avid readers and researchers. Throughout the changing times, libraries have remained strong and diligent by keeping up with progress by preserving information, artifacts, and reading materials for the general public and for generations to come. Such is the case with the Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records, including the Arizona Capitol Museum located in downtown Phoenix.

“The expertise provided by our trained staff helps Arizonians know and obtain information about their government, their state, and their world,” said Kim Crawford, State Library communications manager.

The Arizona State Library is celebrating its centennial anniversary this year. Established on March 24, 1915, it was originally intended for governmental and legislative purposes. But it was actually conceived prior in 1863 when a group of politicians under the delegation of President Abraham Lincoln and with 300 books in tow journeyed west to the then territory of Arizona. One of those men was Richard C. McCormick, the secretary of the Territory of Arizona (and later the second governor of Arizona). With the assistance of Judge William Thomas Howell, who implemented the Howell Code (the first law of Arizona), McCormick’s book collection helped to create the Territorial Library in 1864. It is the oldest cultural institution in the state.

In 1912, legislatures wanted the library to be called the State Library, but they were met with opposition on both sides of the aisle. But eventually, the Arizona State Senate fought for the institution to officially become the State Library.

The State Library is not like your community library where you can check out books. It’s strictly for research, but there are many items available online, including a virtual reference desk for people who are not able to contact the library during business hours. One of the most popular areas of research is genealogy and family history. The State Library offers patrons access to documents on immigration and naturalization, vital records, and county histories. Online websites ancestry.com and HeritageQuest.com are available for in-library use. Within the State Library’s Development branch, staff members also provide training and resources to libraries throughout the state, implement grant funding, and promote literacy education through onebookaz.com.

“This summer, the State Library is partnering with Read On Arizona to encourage students to read a minimum of 20 minutes daily to help prevent the ‘summer slide,’” Crawford says.

At the Polly Rosenbaum Archives and History Building, researchers may feel as if they’d stepped back in time. This section has documents related to historic permanent public records, manuscripts, photographs, Superior Court documents, and other materials that contribute to the understanding of Arizona history. The State Library also works closely with the Arizona Memory Project that has over 200 exhibits and 100,000 full-text digital searchable objects.

For Arizonans with disabilities that make it difficult to read print or a hold a book, there is the Arizona Talking Book Library. The State Library also encompasses the Arizona Capitol Museum under the copper dome of the historic capitol building, which offers self-guided tours, paintings, and sculptures. It also features changing exhibit rooms such as the interactive Your Vote, Your Choice that offers cutting-edge technology and the latest information on Arizona politics. The Capitol Museum even boasts a store.

There’s so much to explore within the Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records, and the helpful staff is available to answer your questions and attend to your needs.

“I guarantee you would walk away with a ‘Wow, I didn’t know that!’ moment,” Crawford says.


Check out the azlibrary.gov for more information.

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