A community fix for Rio Arriba’s libraries

How a growing network of independent libraries is transforming New Mexican towns

By Lucia Duncan

Community-supported libraries in New Mexico’s Rio Arriba County host early childhood literacy programs and other services. Photo by Lucia Duncan

In New Mexico, public libraries are funded by municipalities. That policy has unfortunate consequences: If you live in an unincorporated town, there’s no funding stream for a local public library. While other states, like Colorado, have library districts — like school districts — to provide funding, New Mexico’s rural communities are often forced to do without libraries and the educational services they provide.

In northern New Mexico, however, residents in several towns have joined together to change that dynamic. Their solution: to create independent, community-supported libraries that provide services like early literacy programs and after-school education. In the process, they’ve also transformed their communities. Lucia Duncan has the story for KSFR News.