JUST RELEASED: 2016 NEW MEXICO LIBRARIES ASSESSMENT
The New Mexico Library Foundation has just released the 2016 New Mexico Libraries Assessment. Commissioned earlier this year, this comprehensive report examines the current state of New Mexico’s public, tribal, school, academic and special libraries.
In 2015, the New Mexico legislature formally expressed support for the assessment. “We are extremely pleased to be providing these results to New Mexico residents and decision makers,” said Carol Hoover, Chair of the Board of Trustees of the New Mexico Library Foundation. “The assessment’s findings clearly show the essential role that libraries of all types play in the health of our state, and outline key areas where there are critical needs to be addressed.”
Key findings of the assessment include the following:
- New Mexico’s library landscape is unique, rich and diverse. Reflecting the state’s remarkable geography, history and demographics, New Mexico’s libraries are a priceless asset.
- Adequate funding is a critical issue for virtually all New Mexico libraries, because the existing funding mechanisms do not generate enough support. Although New Mexico libraries benefit from an array of funding streams, all have challenges and collectively they do not provide what is needed for libraries of all types to thrive.
- 88% of New Mexico libraries reported shrinking or flat budgets in the last three years, yet 92% say their expenses have increased or stayed the same. Each year, inflation eats away at library budgets, making it difficult for libraries to avoid cutting services
- 89% of New Mexico libraries reported challenges in providing relevant, high-quality collections, 87% reported having inadequate staffing and 95% reported having one or more facilities-related challenges.
- Libraries strive to bridge the digital divide and to keep up with advancing technology, but are held back by lack of broadband access, outdated hardware and limited e-resources. 40% of
New Mexico libraries reported that they do not offer broadband internet service and only 7% reported having no technology issues at their library.
- Despite the many challenges they face, New Mexico libraries can take pride in their many achievements. In the last five years, a significant number of New Mexico libraries have added new services, such as makerspaces, support for job seekers, computer literacy training and library programming. 96% of all libraries reported that their services support student success, 86% reported supporting lifelong learning and 64% indicated that their library preserves resources and cultural assets.
Conducted by national library consultant Penny Hummel, the assessment included a statewide library survey, as well as focus groups and public community conversations held in several locations across the state. 269 New Mexico libraries participated in the survey, which included 67% of New Mexico’s academic libraries and 84% of its tribal and public libraries, as well as librarians representing 19 school districts and 12 special libraries. With the exception of Catron, Harding and Mora counties, all New Mexico counties were represented by at least one library in the survey. Data from the assessment will be used to inform a statewide conference on November 1, Libraries Transform New Mexico, which will gather together 100 New Mexico stakeholders including legislators, policymakers, community leaders, librarians, library supporters/patrons and members of the general public. This event will be an exciting opportunity to showcase the accomplishments of New Mexico libraries and, more importantly, to identify ways libraries can further expand as collaborative partners with educational institutions, cultural organizations, government services and private enterprise.
About the New Mexico Library Foundation
The mission of the New Mexico Library Foundation (NMLF) is to support identified needs of New Mexico libraries. Established in 1992, NMLF is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides grants to all types of New Mexico libraries to build and maintain their collections, update information access technology and enhance library programs.