Ira H. Hayes Memorial Library gets New look
February 3, 2023
After nearly 40 years at the same location in Sacaton, the Ira H. Hayes Memorial Library has a new look. Community members who stop in will see more computers, an expanded play area for children and a more open and accessible feel.
“It was just real, real crowded in there,” said Valencelio “Rose” Smith-Chavez, a Library Aide who has worked there since 2019. “I’m still just trying to keep the library together and open.”
Smith-Chavez took on the initiative of decluttering the space and opening up more room for possibilities last summer, when the former librarian left. With the help of Community Services Director Joanne Brewer, the Facility Maintenance staff and volunteers, the library has undergone numerous changes.
The facility has added six computer stations, work desks, a lounge area, and even a charging kiosk for mobile devices. The children’s area has been shifted to a separate room. It now contains a more spacious area for youth, including two touch-screen computers, a television, desks, and sensory toys.
Additional plans for the future include the return of a summer reading program, providing coffee for patrons, and hosting small events, Smith-Chavez explained.
“I’m still looking to upgrade the library with eBooks,” she said, adding that the updates reflect what she envisions for a more open, calm, and productive area that everyone can enjoy.
Built in 1929, located on the corner of East Church and Pima Streets in Sacaton, it originally housed the Sacaton Public School until 1976. The building became vacant when the existing Sacaton Elementary and Middle School completed constructed.
It was commonly referred to by elders as the “Pink school” due to the building’s paint color at the time, which has now faded to a more lavender shade. According to Anthony Gray, Culture and Language Program Manager, the building fell into such disrepair and, at one time, was set for demolition.
Then in 1984, the Kiwanis Club of Sun Lakes, Ariz., part of Kiwanis International, a global community of clubs, members, and partners dedicated to improving the lives of children, serving their needs, improving literacy, and offering guidance, proposed a public services project which evolved into the Ira H. Hayes Library.
Named in honor of GRIC member and WWII hero Ira H. Hayes, although there are no direct ties between Hayes and the library, many visitors come from near and far because of its famous namesake.
“A lot of people come in from out of state and they’re wanting to see Ira Hayes memorabilia, they want to see his outfit or you know, what he wore as a Marine or pictures of him,” said Smith-Chavez. “It’s nice to see people come in from different places. Alaska, Hawaii, we even had a couple come in from England.”
Smith-Chavez said many patrons utilize the library to access the internet, for printing services, or just as a space to work and meet.
“Most people don’t come in here to check out books,” said Smith-Chavez. “We get a lot of people using the computers. That’s why we did what we did. We just put everything aside and catered to them.
“I will try and locate anything for them that they need,” Smith-Chavez added. “I mean I have people coming in here that just want to sit inside the library. A lot of them come in, they’ll just wait for the bus and that’s fine too.”
The library is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, contact the Ira H. Hayes Memorial Library at (520) 562-3225.