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What a relief: Cooling centers around county offer shelter from the sun

Posted at 6:26 PM, Jun 04, 2024

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Although it isn't officially summer yet, the heat is already on!

And with the summer heat intensifying, Pima County is stepping up efforts to provide relief for residents. Over 30 cooling centers are now operational, including at several Pima County libraries.

Woods Memorial Library, managed by Chinyere Olumba, plays a key role in this initiative.

"Libraries are access," Olumba said. "We provide access to the community for everyone, and because we don’t turn anyone away, we’re the most obvious spot for everyone to come."

The welcoming policy makes libraries an ideal refuge during extreme heat days.

Olumba explained the library's ability to double as a cooling center, something libraries within the system have been doing for years now.

"When we get these detrimental, hot heat days, the place where people want to come is the library to get cool," she said.

The library offers air conditioning, water bottles, and hand sanitizer to visitors seeking respite from the scorching temperatures.

Olumba said the demographics of those who use the library as a cooling center are diverse.

"We see all types of people come in, whether it’s homeless individuals, youth coming in from outside, or children out of school."

The library also functions as a heating center in the winter, demonstrating its year-round commitment to community support.

In addition to providing a cool environment, the library staff is trained to handle heat-related emergencies.

"We have security in place, and we’re always on the lookout for signs of anyone feeling the effects of the heat," Olumba said.

Staff are prepared to call emergency services or offer water to those in distress.

If you're looking for a complete list of all the active cooling centers in Pima County, visit the Pima County Public Library website.

Olumba also encouraged community members to utilize Woods' resources, ensuring they stay safe and cool during the intense summer months.

"It's part of the reason why we’re here," she said.