Finding community and more in Phoenix

Kelly Wolfe

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In early October, leaders and staff from OCLC member libraries of all types across the Americas will meet in the Phoenix, Arizona, area for two days of learning, connection, and collaboration at the OCLC Library Futures Conference. Six keynote speakers from inside and outside of the library community will provide inspiration to get participants thinking creatively about how our libraries can be catalysts for change in our communities. The programming—planned by a team of leaders from OCLC member libraries—focuses on providing the leadership needed to guide these exciting changes.

This annual conference will be held in a unique Scottsdale hotel, The Scott, a venue that will enhance opportunities for networking breaks, collaboration, and fun. The agenda includes a dinner event at the Heard Museum, known internationally for its collections and advancement of American Indian art.

But if you’re traveling all the way to sunny Phoenix, you may want to extend your trip a bit to take in some of the many experiences and sights in the area.

OCLC member and conference attendee, Cindy Kolaczynski, Director and County Librarian at Maricopa County Library District, and I have some fun recommendations to share. We’re both local to the Phoenix metro area and we think you’ll find plenty to enjoy. Approximate distances from The Scott are noted.

Love local culture?

Thursday evenings are when art lovers visit galleries and meet artists at Scottsdale’s ArtWalk (1.7 miles) in Old Town Scottsdale. Check out First Fridays (12 miles) in downtown Phoenix—explore local art galleries and cultural venues starting at 6:00 pm. And nearby Gilbert also offers a popular farmers market and art walk (21 miles) on Saturday mornings.

Or, consider visiting some local libraries to see renovations, interesting architecture, and beautiful views. Cindy and I recommend these libraries:

  • Scottsdale Civic Center Library (1.6 miles)
  • The Burton Barr Branch of the Phoenix Public Library (13 miles)—the main downtown branch—which features recent renovations
  • White Tank Library (44 miles), part of the Maricopa County Library District and situated in White Tank Mountain Regional Park—complete with its own nature center, trails for hiking and biking, and horseback riding
  • The Desert Foothills Library (28 miles) in Cave Creek north of Scottsdale, which has breathtaking views from its observation deck
  • The Hayden Library (9 miles) at Arizona State University in nearby Tempe, which began a major renovation that reimagines space, resources, and services

Hiking boots ready?

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Camelback Mountain in Scottsdale, Arizona

Since much of the Phoenix area is generally flat, it’s easy to spot nearby hills and mountains to explore. Though generally short, the hikes are challenging—but the vistas make your effort worthwhile. Wear sturdy footwear and sunscreen, and bring a water bottle to see these local highlights:

  • Camelback Mountain (3.5 miles), conveniently located in Scottsdale, is a popular hiking site—and ranked as the #2 Best Thing to Do in Phoenix by U.S. News Travel. The hike to the summit is rugged and steep, but the views are amazing.
  • McDowell Sonoran Preserve (14 miles), also in Scottsdale, offers more than 200 miles of trails and 30,000 acres of Sonoran Desert. This is a great place to explore cacti forests and observe desert inhabitants in their native environment.
  • Piestewa Peak (9.5 miles), named for Lori Piestewa, the first Native American woman to die in combat, is at the 2,608-foot summit of a rugged-1.2 mile hike that ends with spectacular views of the Phoenix metro area.
  • The Desert Botanical Garden (5 miles) is a highlight within Papago Park in Phoenix (where the hiking is easy); go for 140 acres of botanical specimens and treasures from the desert.

Need a souvenir?

If shopping is your idea of fun, Phoenix—and Scottsdale in particular—will keep you busy. Here are a few recommended shopping/entertainment complexes:

  • Old Town Scottsdale (0.9 mile), a comprehensive shopping and entertainment district
  • Fashion Square (0.7 mile), a massive indoor mall—240 stores and restaurants
  • Scottsdale Waterfront (0.7 mile), tucked next to Fashion Square, offering a collection of boutiques, services, and restaurants, plus a museum about the storied Fiesta Bowl, which is held each year in nearby Tempe

Registration open till mid-September

You have plenty of reasons to come to the Phoenix area in early October in addition to the OCLC Library Futures Conference. There’s still time to register for this annual OCLC membership event, but don’t delay—registration is open through Friday, September 20, and on-site registration will not be available. Hotel rooms in the OCLC room block at The Scott are available at a discounted rate through Tuesday, September 10.

The event website provides full details—and a link to even more things to do in Phoenix. Early October is a great time to visit Phoenix, so we look forward to seeing you there!