New Mexico State Library

Latest News + Hitchhiker Blog

Serving Diverse Communities Inside New Mexico’s Largest Library System

The New Mexico State Library is pleased to be participating in the state-wide Summer Intern program to offer experience in the operations of the state library and working for the state of New Mexico.  We have two excellent graduate interns working with the NMSL Development Bureau on our upcoming Circulating Kits and Traveling Exhibits program and with our Youth Services Coordinator on Summer Reading site visits.  Jennifer Chen is a native Californian and a recent MLIS graduate from San Jose State University expanding on her experience in public libraries in California.  Marley Jameson-Sisneros will begin her MLIS studies this Fall after working in academic libraries as an undergraduate and is discovering new parts of her native New Mexico.  Jennifer and Marley will be reporting on their experiences and takeaways from library visits around the state. 

By Marley Jameson-Sisneros and Jennifer Chen 

We had the wonderful opportunity to visit the International District and Cherry Hills branches of the Public Library Albuquerque and Bernalillo County with our mentor and New Mexico State Library Youth Services Coordinator Kelly McCabe and State Data Coordinator Carmelita Aragon. The system serves a census area of 676,444. The system has been serving residents of Albuquerque since 1901 at the Old Main Library which is now the Special Collections Library. The library has been consistently adding branches since 1948 when the Ernie Pyle Library opened on Girard. The International District Library is the 19th and newest branch, and our first stop of the day. 

The International District Library just recently celebrated a year of being open on July 9th and serves diverse populations including a large unhoused and transient population and families of many cultural backgrounds. It is a beautiful building with natural lighting, multiple programming rooms, study rooms, a shaded outdoor area, and more. One of our favorite aspects of this space was the children’s area which has a wonderful story time space with sound-dampening walls.  

In the past year, the International District staff has been exploring the needs of their community and discovering how they can best serve their patrons. Librarian Amy Perry spoke to us about needs in the community that were not being served by other entities in the area, and how they’re working to fill those needs. Some of these needs include access to shelter, food, water, and technology which the library provides. The branch accepts donations of food and water which they distribute to patrons and receives monthly visits from Roadrunner Food Bank which distributes food until supplies run out. We were excited by some of these collaborations happening inside the library. For example, public defenders have been holding office hours every third Friday. The International District branch has also been working with adult literacy programs and Goodwill, which comes in to offer job help.

Colored strings of paper links are displayed in an order than resembles a rainbow. Beside it are bins and shelves of craft supplies and Legos.
Inside the children’s programming room.

The International District branch has already developed some successful and exciting regular programs for children and families. One especially successful program has been the Junior Foodies: Kids Cooking Club. Led by Melody Bioletti, the club uses a Charlie Cart to teach kids how to cook. The club permits a maximum of 20 participants and uses in-season ingredients to teach kids how to make things like jam, smoothies, and soon salads. Bioletti also hosts a weekly Storytime Yoga on Sundays, but she is hoping to expand yoga programs to adults as well. We were very excited to see many successful services and programs taking hold at this new branch and impressed by the work the staff at the International District branch has done thus far. 

A peak at the popular Kids Cooking Club.
July's recipe.

After our visit to the International District library branch, we made our way over to the Cherry Hills library branch of the Public Library Albuquerque and Bernalillo County. Cherry Hills is located in a residential neighborhood within walking distance of many houses. The prime location for families gives this branch lots of foot traffic and keeps them busy, especially during the summer. For their Summer Reading Program (SRP) this year, there have been around 2,000 people who signed up. That’s quite the impressive number, making the Cherry Hills branch one of the busiest SRP in the Albuquerque system! The high amount of those registered for the SRP program also reflects on their collection. Nichole Byres, the Youth Services Librarian, tells us that patrons check out so many books that they have a hard time keeping the shelves stocked with materials. 

An "All Together Now" banner colored in by the Cherry Hills community.
A white table with a large variety of yarn on top. There's a half-done example of a woven bowl on the far side of the table.
An example of a program that requires pre-registration: bowl weaving!

A popular program that the Cherry Hills branch offers its patrons is their Storytimes. Programs that require preparation or purchasing of materials needs pre-registration, but Storytime does not require that. This results in this program drawing in huge crowds of more than 60 people! Storytime takes place in their programming room which is separated by sliding doors that can accordion open completely to accommodate for larger crowds. Byres tells us that the library is usually short on chairs during Storytime because of how popular the program is. There are several different kinds of Storytime programs, which include Baby, Preschool, Family, and Music and Movement. The large variety of Storytime programming contributes to its popularity within the community. 

The Albuquerque Public School system has recently changed their school schedule to change start and end times and begin the school year much earlier than planned, which has affected library programming. It’s interesting to see how different organizations and their scheduling affects the libraries. As the world changes, so too does the library need to adapt and change to meet the needs of their community. 

Arches leading into the children’s area, the “Reading Realm.”

Both the International District and the Cherry Hills library branches are in the same library system yet serve vastly different communities. Each library provides programming that meets their patrons’ needs, and we are excited to see what Cherry Hills and the International District achieve in the future. This was a great way to end our summer reading visits with two branches of the largest system in New Mexico. We have been able to see such a wide scope of libraries, from rural to urban with populations of varying needs, which these libraries have done such an excellent job catering to. We’d like to thank the staff at Cherry Hills and the International District for their time and our mentor Kelly McCabe for giving us the opportunity to visit so many of the wonderful libraries of New Mexico! 

The Cherry Hills Branch sign.

Featured Categories

All Categories