SaddleBrooke Community Libraries Celebrates 30th Anniversary

Bernice Christian, Cathy Schaber, and Margaret Betanzos

It is hard to believe but this year marks the 30th anniversary of our libraries! The libraries had a modest beginning in 1990 when some dedicated women started collecting books, storing them in their garages, and when there was space, bringing them to the newly opened SaddleBrooke One Clubhouse. The main room looked much as it does now and held the hardback and paperback collections. The small annex room in the back, which was once a janitor’s closet, had carousels for romance and non-fiction books, puzzles, and a small space for processing the books. Items were checked out by writing the name of the book and the patron in a spiral bound notebook. When the book was returned a line was drawn through the person’s name. A card catalog kept track of the books in the collection. It seems archaic now, but at that time there just was no money to put into any resources other than a few new books a month.

Ann Parks, who oversaw the library from 1991 to 1998, had 60 boxes of books stored in her garage! Most of the books were donated but there also were some monetary contributions from patrons. She would take what she had and determine which could be sold at swap meets to buy new books for the library. Ann would travel to Pinetop in the summers and attend their swap meets and in the winter to the Tanque Verde swap meets. Initially, monies for the books were largely acquired from book sales which were held twice a year on the portico. She recently moved out of SaddleBrooke but her love of books was the beginning of what are now three vibrant libraries.

The libraries have grown so much in the past 30 years that we now have three libraries and each of the libraries has its own management team, along with a coordinator for the whole system. The managers guide the many friendly volunteers necessary to keep these libraries up to date and efficient. Due to space constraints each library has its own special collections.

About 20 years ago, some dedicated book lovers began a move to form a new organization, Friends of the SaddleBrooke Libraries, for the purpose of raising money for new books and other resources for the libraries. At about the same time, a new, small library room opened in the MountainView Clubhouse. The HOAs also helped fund some of the supplies needed to enhance the libraries, including new drop boxes and the computers which greatly changed the way the libraries operated.

Because of the popularity of the libraries, when the Desert View building was completed it had a dedicated room for a library which meant that there were now three libraries in SaddleBrooke! Some changes took place shortly after that with the remodeling of first the SaddleBrooke Clubhouse and later the MountainView Clubhouse. These two major construction projects increased the shelving and work space in the SaddleBrooke One library, and created the Cholla Library at MountainView.

Volunteers are an essential part of the success of our libraries. When the SaddleBrooke library opened in 1990 it had a dedicated group of folks who not only sorted and selected books to shelve, but also had to store boxes of books in garages. From its humble beginnings of checking books out manually, the three libraries now have close to 100 volunteers and check out 67,000 items annually with a catalog system to manage the collection of books, videos, and audiobooks.

SaddleBrooke Community Libraries are now planning a variety of special events to celebrate our 30-year anniversary. Along with the usual Friends of SaddleBrooke Libraries events, there are plans for three open houses (one at each library), a game day, and a garden party. All SaddleBrooke residents are invited to attend these events. Dates and times will be announced. We hope that you will visit the libraries on their open house dates and also attend some of the special events planned.

Remember, none of this is possible without the support of the Friends of SaddleBrooke Libraries. They depend on the support of members to continue to provide the money to purchase new books, DVDs, audiobooks, and the special collections. In addition, they also provide funding for the lecture series and author luncheons, along with other events. Your membership is essential to continue to provide these resources for the enjoyment of everyone in SaddleBrooke. Visit their website,, to learn more about the Friends, how to join, and continue 30 more years of enjoyment of the libraries in SaddleBrooke!