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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Vote for the Library Bond: Support a Culture of Lifelong Learning in New Mexico

This is a post by contributing writer, Stephen Jones, of Las Cruces.

As the state and local contests for public office heat up and move into high gear, voters in New Mexico would be wise not to overlook the key issues and decisions lower down the ballot. High on the list among these is the vote for Library General Obligation Bond B (GO Bonds), a $7 million funding measure that will go to support library services at our public, school, tribal, community college and public university libraries.

If passed, the GO Bonds will enable publicly supported libraries at all levels to continue to provide needed core services to the general public, and to children’s and student services, by updating book and journal collections and maintaining critical subscriptions to electronic databases. GO Bonds provide up to 25% of New Mexico library materials.

In New Mexico’s overall learning environment, the debate often centers on our schools, but it would be a mistake for voters to overlook the critical services of our libraries. National academic studies have repeatedly shown that children who participate in summer reading programs uniformly perform better during the regular school year, and are more likely to stay in school until graduation and beyond.

Furthermore, public and tribal libraries provide a safe third place between school and home; a place of free inquiry and learning, but also a place that supports critical community service and cultural learning needs. For adult patrons, libraries provide a community center that affords access to lifelong learning materials, job search and research tools. Libraries allow diverse communities to come together and for all of us to step out of our accustomed comfort zones and bridge historic ethnic and economic divides between our communities. Libraries also are repositories of public and government information that allow residents to tunnel through the red tape and labyrinth of information that divides the average New Mexican from the critical government and educational services that they already pay for with their tax dollars.

If passed, Library General Obligation Bond B will cost New Mexicans forty-five cents on every $100,000 of assessed property value. This is a low price to pay for the sort of critical services our libraries provide to all of us in New Mexico. In November’s election we need to remember to cast our votes for GO Bond B.

Note: You can now download a sample ballot for your precinct at the Secretary of State's website, and check out the bond issues, constitutional amendments and candidates that are up for a vote in your area on November 2nd. If you are not registered to vote, you must register by October 5th to vote in this year's election. Contact your county clerk for more info.

To read more posts by Stephen Jones, visit our archive.

September 28, 2010 at 12:20 PM in 2010 General Election, Books, By Stephen Jones, Contributing Writer, Children and Families, Government | Permalink

Comments

Excellent point about the importance of libraries' place in a functioning democracy. On a related note, the recent move by many California communities to privatise library services is as dangerous to our society as the recent Supreme Court's decision to give corporations free rein to spend billions to smother speech in our election campaigns.

Keep up the good work Steve.

Posted by: thelonius | Sep 28, 2010 2:58:22 PM

This is a truly paltry sum. Libraries are on the front lines of the whole effort to promote literacy, especially for children and families. In a state where the literacy rate should be a "hair on fire" urgency, one would think that more would be done to support this resource.

In Albuquerque, book buying is limited to what is currently out from the publishers. Buying books for the collection from years past is beyond the budget, so the collection overall suffers. Something like a third of the staff, including professional librarians with years of experience and Masters Degrees are working as temps without benefits and at a low wage.

The amount of support overall in New Mexico for literacy at the community level needs more emphasis.

Posted by: Stuart Heady | Sep 29, 2010 8:32:31 AM