State bookmobiles reaching out to rural areas

April 7, 2014 • State News

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico’s bookmobile program has been reaching more rural communities, despite little funding.

Employees who run the program have only three bookmobile buses to serve the entire state, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported (

Dozens of smaller communities still rely on a vehicle toting books, which is seen as old-fashioned concept by some. Each mobile visits the communities once a month and packed with more than 4,500 books. It also offers audio books and [auth] DVDs.

The most recent community to get on the bookmobile map is Pecos. The mobile library stopped at Pecos Elementary School for the first time March 19 after 5-year-old Jacob Reta-Perea made the request.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to spark that interest in reading and being able to travel through books,” said Gerard Flores, school assistant principal.

Pecos marks the 11th school stop statewide.

Charri Richards, a former teacher who manages the New Mexico Rural Bookmobile Northeast, said it’s great “just getting out and seeing rural New Mexico and visiting people.”

Richards is a nine-year veteran of the program. The Bookmobile Northeast alone makes 37 site visits in seven counties, she said. In rural places, the bookmobile is still relevant and people plan their schedules around its visits, Richards added.

“We have broken down in some real remote places,” Richards said.

The program is estimated to have cost about $578,000 last year with much of the funding covered by a federal grant. Bookmobile employees traveled more than 63,000 miles in 2013.

During the last legislative session, State Librarian Devon Skeele helped lobby lawmakers for $300,000 in the hope of getting a new bus. But they were only given $25,000, which wasn’t nearly enough. As a result, the funding was vetoed altogether.

However, the program earned a recurring appropriation of $20,000, Skeele said. That money will be used for operations and bus repairs.

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