By Ted Hale, Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records

The Tools for Tough Times website is a one-stop site providing links that can help all Arizonans during touch economic times. Included are tools for work, parents, finances, housing, health and specific tools for seniors. Janet Fisher, Director of the Law and Research Library for the Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records, said: “Since its introduction and promotion to libraries in April, 2009, this website has been added to training sessions by libraries in some of the rural areas of the state. As government services are changing, the site is updated. One distinct advantage is that the site is Arizona-specific. We’re letting communities add local government and non-profit resources as they know best what their community needs are. On the other end, we’re maintaining active links to state resources, revising the list as programs cease and as other options and alternatives need to be found.” Proof of the initial success of the program is that other libraries are linking to the site.

Fisher states “our program was modeled on the New Jersey State Library’s Get Help! program which we became aware of in early 2009. We adapted the model to encompass Arizona-based resources and local/state pass-through programs. We also expanded the scope of the site to include parenting, healthcare, tools for seniors, and a tool addressing what to do with pets when you are no longer able to care for them. The whole concept is to convey that the library is an anchor institution in most communities and should be considered as a first response not only in times of crisis but at all times. We offer knowledgeable, skilled individuals who provide information virtually and physically, provide help during immediate times and in the long-term, and in many languages and formats.”

The State Library is in a unique position to collaborate with state agencies. It is the oldest cultural institution in Arizona (1864) with a long history of state-wide collaborations in the public interest. The Tools for Tough Times program is one of the latest offerings that addresses a strong current need for this information. Since its inception in April 2009, the site has registered 8,215 users.  Usage continues to grow and it is our vision that once the economic downturn levels out the site will remain relevant for Arizonans.