South Mountain Community Library is one of a just a few libraries in the nation that serves simultaneously as a community college library and a public library. Students and faculty from South Mountain Community College use library resources and the facilities as their research and information center. SMCL also serves children, teens, and adults as the 17th branch of the Phoenix Public Library system. Employees from both organizations staff this unique building and users have access to almost all of the resources that both organizations have to offer.
In Fall of 2002, City of Phoenix Councilman Michael Johnson, and South Mountain Community College President Dr. Ken Atwater conceived of a partnership between South Mountain Community College and the City of Phoenix to create a joint-use library for the community of South Phoenix. The new library became a reality when the voters of Maricopa County passed the Maricopa County Community College District bond in 2004 and the Phoenix electorate passed the City of Phoenix bond in 2006.
The planning for the new library began in earnest. Over the course of the next two years, the leadership of South Mountain Community College and Phoenix Public Library worked together to develop two intergovernmental agreements. The first, Intergovernmental Agreement between the City of Phoenix, Arizona and Maricopa Community College District for the Construction and Joint Use of a Public Library on the South Mountain Community College Campus, was signed in 2008. The second, Agreement for the Operation of the Shared Use Community Library Located on the South Mountain Community College Campus at 7050 S. 24th Street, Phoenix, Arizona, between City of Phoenix, for and on behalf of the Phoenix Public Library Department and Maricopa County Community College District, for and on behalf of South Mountain Community College, was signed a year later.
By the end of 2008, the Phoenix-based architectural firm of richärd + bauer, llc, had been hired to design and build what is now known as the South Mountain Community Library. In addition, Haydon Building Corporation had been retained in the capacity of Construction Management at Risk for the project. Ground breaking for the building occurred on December 2, 2009. While the construction work continued on the building, significant effort began on the development of the specific operations for this new venture.
These efforts culminated in the "soft" opening of the South Mountain Community Library on Tuesday, August 16, 2011. The Grand Opening was celebrated on Saturday, September 24, 2011.