Located in the Guerrero Student Center, the library encourages reading as a hobby
by Sohi Kang from El Inde Arizona
University of Arizona booklovers have a new resource on campus.
The Guerrero Student Center Library in the Cesar E. Chavez Building is now open to all students, staff and faculty members to check out books from a variety of genres for leisure reading.
The library officially opened in February with around 70 books, mainly from the personal collection of Lucero Ramirez, coordinator at the Adalberto & Ana Guerrero Student Center at the UA.
The books they have now are mainly young adult fiction, with some nonfiction, romance and coming-of-age novels, Ramirez said.
How the idea formed
Ramirez, a self-proclaimed book enthusiast, had the novel idea to start a library at the center, inspired by a library she started in her classroom when she taught English at Pueblo High School.
Ramirez said she wanted to make reading more accessible for students. She said she remembered that when she was in college, she loved reading but couldn’t necessarily afford new books.
“When you’re paying for tuition and fees and whatever other supplies, books and stuff, I feel like our budgets are so tight that we can’t even splurge on a $15-$20 book,” Ramirez said. “Because it’s that versus lunch or that versus the textbook.”
From her previous position as a culturally responsive educator, her job was to be intentional about the literature that was taught. From this experience, she learned how validating it could be to read stories about people who come from similar cultural backgrounds.
According to the UA Guerrero Center’s Instagram, their mission is to “support Latine students achieve academic and personal excellence.” This influenced the book selection for the library.
Ramirez said that the majority of the books are by Latinx authors and the stories cover many intersectional identities, such as Afro-Lantix, Indigenous Latinx and queer Latinx.
Gisselle Ramirez, graphic designer and desk assistant for the GSC, said she believes the library’s primary purpose is to provide literature to students that is culturally sensitive. Gisselle Ramirez is also Lucero Ramirez’s younger sister.
“In regular classes, usually books aren’t centered around people of color,” Gisselle Ramirez said. “So I think the purpose is [not only] to expose [students] to books about their own culture, but other people’s cultures and also queer representation, disability representation, those types of things.”
Borrowing a book
Gisselle Ramirez said checking out a book only requires leaving behind a name and contact information that is recorded by the desk assistant. She said the library averages around at least one checkout per day.
The library has a maximum of two books per person at one time, with a lending period of a month, according to Lucero Ramirez. Library patrons can renew the book after that.
One student who has used the library is Jennitza Barreras, a sophomore majoring in pre-elementary education. She said she noticed the workers setting up the new library one day while hanging out at the student center.
Barreras checked out “Eva Luna” by Isabel Allende. Barreras said she liked seeing the representation within the books, being Mexican-American.
“Growing up, I didn’t really see a lot of books that were geared towards that kind of community, even in the UA in general,” Gisselle Ramirez said. “But the Guerrero Student Center is geared towards Latino and Hispanic students and it’s kind of like a little community.”
Lucero Ramirez said they are also flexible with working with patron needs and want to make the library accommodating for all.
“In a traditional library, you have to come physically into the space to check out a book, whereas in our case, someone sent us a [direct message] on Instagram that they saw a book in our story that they really wanted and if they could reserve it,” Lucero Ramirez said.
After receiving the message, the library sets it aside for the student to come in to check out the book at a time that is convenient for them.
Expanding the library
Lucero Ramirez said the library has room to shelve 100 to 150 more books and is always accepting donations, but is mainly looking for any new or gently used books. As for genre, she said the center is “pretty open” to the book selection.
The coordinator said she’s working to expand the library by creating an online catalog of the books they have, which could remove a barrier of the time spent looking for a book in person.
“When I was in college, coming to campus was such a big commute,” Lucero Ramirez said. “Sometimes if they are on campus only the day they have class, then maybe they can just swing by really quick.”
She said that she hopes more of the community will learn about the library and perhaps even share their own books.
“There’s so many faculty, staff and students that love reading or want to get into reading and we want to make sure that we provide the space […] and mirror the library experience,” Lucero Ramirez said.
What to know if you go:
Where: Chavez building, second floor
Hours: Monday-Thursday 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and Friday 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m
The checkout process: Talk to a desk assistant who will ask for contact information
Limit of checkouts: Two books, with a hold period of one month
A few popular checkouts so far: “The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas; “Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe” by Benjamin Alire Sáenz; “Mexican WhiteBoy” by Matt de la Peña.