Friends of SaddleBrooke Libraries – December 2023

The Life of a Donated Book

Bernice Christian

You may be thinking to yourself, I know exactly where my donated book will end up—on the shelf of one of our three SaddleBrooke Libraries. Well, that may be the case, or it may not. If you have been to any of our libraries, you will notice that the shelves are already full! So, how do we decide what to keep and how to handle the large number of books that SaddleBrooke residents so generously donate to our libraries?

Very simply, donated books and DVDs are subject to the same criteria as new books considered for inclusion in our library collections. However, being used books, a primary consideration is that they must be in “like new” condition. Library books get a lot of use! We give priority to newer titles, generally those published within the last five years, but there are exceptions. For example, a classic biography of a historical figure will not go out of date.

Given that the history of the SaddleBrooke Libraries was early reliance on donated books, most were shelved without too much hesitation. But as the libraries expanded and the Friends of SaddleBrooke Libraries (FSL) was established, this changed mightily. With the addition of funds raised by the FSL, the libraries now could buy new books rather than just relying on donations. The libraries still use donations, however, and donated books are critical to the operation of the Cholla Library and useful to the others as well.

Here is why. The Cholla Library was established about 10 years ago when the small library in the entryway to the MountainView clubhouse was closed upon the clubhouse renovation. The SaddleBrooke TWO board and management recognized the importance of keeping a library in the clubhouse and designated the Cholla Room for that purpose. Thus, the name became the Cholla Library. But space was too limited to support a staffed library and the computer system to check out books. Also, staffing the library would mean limiting the hours of access, so library management decided to offer only an “honor system” library. This meant relying mostly on donated books since there would be no way to keep track of the books. This is also why the books in the Cholla Library are not listed in the library system’s online catalog. So, yes, the Cholla Library depends largely on donated books to this day, and the fiction collection especially offers a great selection, thanks to all your generous donations. There is a small budget for a limited number of new books, especially large print books.

Thanks to funding from FSL, the two larger libraries, SaddleBrooke One and DesertView, buy a variety of new books for their collections. They use donated books to replace worn-out copies.

What happens if a donated book is one that all three libraries already have or it does not meet our selection criteria for other reasons? Many are put on the sale carts located at the entrance to the SaddleBrooke One and DesertView Libraries. Proceeds are used to buy more books for the libraries, and others are donated to the military or the Golden Goose Thrift Shop.

For more information on what the libraries can use and what is not accepted, please visit the library website When you are ready to donate your books, please bring them to any of the SaddleBrooke Libraries where they can be left with the volunteer on duty or put in the donation box. They will then begin their new life!

January FSL Lecture Focuses on ‘Brave the Wild River’

Author Melissa Sevigny will be the featured speaker at the FSL lecture on Jan. 5, 2024.

Nancy McCluskey-Moore

On Friday, Jan. 5, 2024, at 4 p.m., Friends of SaddleBrooke Libraries (FSL) will host author Melissa L. Sevigny, the author of the recently New York Times-reviewed book, Brave the Wild River: The Untold Story of Two Women Who Mapped the Botany of the Grand Canyon.

In the summer of 1938 botanists Elzada Clover and Lois Jotter set off to run the Colorado River, accompanied by an ambitious and entrepreneurial expedition leader, a zoologist, and two amateur boatmen. The Colorado’s churning waters and treacherous boulders made it infamous as the most dangerous river in the world. Many, including journalists and veteran river runners, pronounced this crew would never make it out alive. But Clover and Jotter were determined: No one had surveyed the plant life of the Grand Canyon, and they wanted to be the first.

Science journalist Melissa Sevigny used the vibrant letters and diaries of the two women to trace their daring, 43-day journey down the river, during which they meticulously cataloged the thorny plants that thrived in the Grand Canyon’s secret nooks and crannies. Along the way, they chased a runaway boat, ran the river’s most fearsome rapids, and turned the harshest critic of female river runners into an ally. Clover and Jotter’s plant list, including four new cactus species, would one day become vital for efforts to protect and restore the river ecosystem.

Brave the Wild River is the fascinating adventure of two women who risked their lives to make an unprecedented botanical survey of a defining landscape in the American West.

Sevigny grew up in Tucson, where she fell in love with the Sonoran Desert’s ecology and dark desert skies. She has worked as a science communicator in the fields of space exploration, water policy, and sustainable agriculture and has a B.S. in environmental science from the University of Arizona and an M.F.A. in creative writing from Iowa State University.

She is the science reporter at KNAU (Arizona Public Radio) in Flagstaff, and her stories have been awarded regional Edward R. Murrow awards and featured nationally on Science Friday. Her books are Brave the Wild River, Mythical River, and Under Desert Skies.