Libraries Round the World:  Arizona’s Christmas City

Prescott, about an hour drive north of Phoenix, is officially named Arizona’s Christmas city. The Mile-High city has many Victorian buildings, and now in its 64thyear, a million lights adorn the Yavapai County courthouse grounds for the holidays. The Yavapai, meaning ‘people of the sun’, were the first Native Americans to call this area of the country home. Next time I’m there, I must stay a night to see it all illuminated.

The local Monday Club (part of the American Federation of Women’s Clubs) received a Carnegie grant in 1899 but suffered from the devastating fire along with much of downtown Prescott in 1900. These women didn’t give up. They were determined to bring some culture to the town outnumbered by rough men referred to as “mostly un-curried, un-married, un-churched and un-washed.”

IMG_6321The Carnegie library opened in 1903, but the library moved to a larger facility a few blocks away in 1975. The former Carnegie library building is well maintained and used by local businesses. Saved from the wrecking ball! Librarian Anna Henry in  1916 inside the Carnegie Prescott Library.

A few special extras I haven’t noticed at other libraries included a long row of book club kits available for check out. Puzzles were also available to do in-house.

An extensive collection of katsinas (Native American dolls for ancestral spirits) were on display in glass cases on top of bookcases. But they didn’t seem too happy about being photographed!

Also on display were sculptured sand paintings by Susan Popko:

In the library’s stairwell, a prelude to modern Prescott. Murals by Paul Coze:

The town square around the courthouse has many historical buildings including several old hotels. A statue in the square commemorated the U.S. volunteer cavalry serving with Teddy Roosevelt’s rough riders.

A very Arizona quote from Andrew Carnegie: “A library outranks any other one thing a community can do to benefit its people. It is a never failing spring in the desert.”

Karen Stensgaard is the author of the novel AQUAVIT, the first book in the Aquamarine Sea Series with a second novel on the way soon. AQUAVIT is available as a paperback from Amazon and Ingram Spark or as an e-book from almost everyone else. Libraries have free access via Overdrive.  Link to free chapters on Amazon


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