KGUN 9NewsCommunity Inspired JournalismNorthside News


"I just love books": One woman creates library system in her retirement community

Posted at 10:28 PM, May 25, 2024

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Each shelf in the Fountains at La Cholla Retirement Community's library is filled with books, each labeled with a sticker. If there's a smiley face sticker, it belongs in the third floor library. The different colors indicate the books' genre.

There's three libraries in the retirement community and each are staffed with volunteers to help people check out the books. There's no computer, just a collection of binders and labeled spreadsheets. One woman — Phyllis Newton — is behind the whole system.

"Before, they would just come, take a book and go," she said. "And nobody knew what was gone or what people were reading."

So when Newton moved into the community over two years ago, she wanted to get involved. Her love of reading stems from her childhood as she spent hours in the library. She saw the need for organization in the libraries at The Fountains so she got to work.

"We never had a card catalog so I developed a catalog for all three of our libraries," she said.

She said each library is staffed with volunteers and she's able to keep track of all the books. But more than the books, the libraries are about creating community, she said.

"I start to know what people like so when a book comes along, I say 'I know the one for you'," she said. "And that makes them feel good that you remember. "

She said she wants to know what people are reading and create a library with books that people will enjoy.

Tina Giuliano is a reporter for KGUN 9. She is a native Arizonan and grew up in Scottsdale. Tina is passionate about storytelling and is excited to work telling Tucson's stories. Share your story ideas and important issues with Tina by emailing or by connecting on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.