NM voters to weigh stocking the shelves with largest ever state library bond

By: - October 24, 2022 4:45 am

The Las Vegas Carnegie Public Library on April 29, 2022. (Photo by Shaun Griswold / Source NM)

The second of three bond questions on November’s ballot in New Mexico is about whether to boost the resources available at public and school-based libraries. At around $19 million, it would be the largest ever statewide library bond.

If approved, General Obligation Bond 2 will be split up, with $6 million each going to public libraries, K-12 school libraries, and academic libraries at colleges and universities, and another $1 million going to the 17 libraries on tribal lands.

The New Mexico Library Association requests the funds from lawmakers on behalf of all the state’s libraries. In 2020, they requested $9.5 million, but chair of the NMLA legislation committee Joe Sabatini said this year the state had more money.

“So we said ‘Let’s ask for double what that one was,’” he said.

With local government oversight, the libraries can use their portion of the bond for books, other print and electronic media and equipment.

The academic libraries distribute their allotment based on student enrollment, so the larger universities get the bulk of the funds. But before they divvy it up, they pool a third of it and buy a suite of shared electronic resources that some smaller colleges may not be able to afford otherwise.

“And that way, if you’re at Mesalands Community College in Tucumcari, but somebody has a technical question about nursing that’s in a database about nursing — well, that happens to be in the package,” he said. “And that student and that faculty member get what the big guys get.”

Public and tribal libraries can spend some of their share of the bond on broadband infrastructure and even furniture and fixtures.

Sabatini said New Mexico voters have never rejected a library bond since they began in 2002 to appear on the ballot every other year.

“And we’re grateful to the citizens who continue to support this investment,” he said.

The statewide property tax rate will not go up if this — or any of this year’s three bonds — pass, according to the state’s Department of Finance and Administration.

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site.

Nash Jones, KUNM News
Nash Jones, KUNM News

Nash Jones (they/them) grew up in Albuquerque and returned home in 2017 after 11 years away living in Portland, OR, and Oakland, CA. Storytelling and community education have consistently been at the core of Nash’s varied career and are, in part, what brought them to KUNM, first as a volunteer host with Spoken Word Hour and NPR's Weekend Edition Sunday, then as a staff member in the KUNM newsroom, hosting Morning Edition (2018-2021) and reporting. Nash currently hosts NPR's All Things Considered and continues to report for KUNM.