Photo of Sunsites Community Library exterior

Sunsites Community Library

Serving the Pearce-Sunsites community
since 1984

The story of how the Sunsites Community Library came to be goes back to 1963 when a “library corner” was established in the “SunSites” Community Center, which later became the Shadow Mountain Clubhouse. It was just a few bookshelves of donated books that sat next to the performance stage, and residents borrowed books on the honor system.

The library evolved from those humble beginnings through the 1960s and 1970s. In 1964, it acquired volunteer librarians, and books were furnished by the Arizona State Library Extension. By 1971, the library had moved into a room inside the Arts & Crafts building that was located at Christmas Tree Lane and Tracy Road. In 1975, the Sunsites Homeowner’s Association established a Library Advisory Board, and in 1978, the Pearce-Sunsites Community Library became a branch of the Cochise County Library District (“Library District”).

Since the beginning, the library had lived in borrowed space. Then in 1979, several visionary community members formed the Friends of the Pearce-Sunsites Community Library. Their primary mission was to find the library a permanent home that had room to grow.

To formalize their status as a nonprofit organization and their role of funding a permanent community library, the Friends organized an executive board in 1980 and filed for tax-exempt status with the IRS. In 1981, the IRS issued a determination letter officially recognizing the Friends of the Pearce-Sunsites Community Library, Inc. as a tax-exempt nonprofit corporation under section 501(c)(3) of the US Internal Revenue Code.

Plans and funding for the new library came together rather quickly over the next few years. In 1980, the Sulphur Springs Bicentennial Committee donated $1,188 as seed money for the new building. In 1982, Horizon Corporation donated the property on Ford Road where the library stands today. By 1983, the Friends had enough money to begin construction on the beautiful, rammed-earth building we all know and love.

On Sunday, May 13th, 1984, the library held its Grand Opening. It was the realization of a dream for the Friends of the Library and every member of the community who helped make it happen.

For quite some time, volunteers continued to operate the new library. Then the Library District began to take a more active role. In a 1999 agreement with the Friends, the Library District provided a paid Branch Coordinator who took responsibility for the operation of the library branch and the management of volunteer staff members. The Friends continued to own and maintain the building, and they covered the necessary utilities. This arrangement continues today.

Now, nearly 40 years after the Sunsites Community Library first opened its doors, the Friends continue to maintain a permanent local library for the benefit of the community. The names and faces behind the work may change, but the mission remains the same.

This article was assembled from a timeline of events found in Arizona SunSites: An Anthology (pages 103-107), compiled by the Sunsites Memory Project. It is shelved at the library under 979.153.