Early voting began today in Dona Ana County for a bill that could make or break New Mexico’s academic library collections, at least for the next couple of years. While public libraries are used to their funding hinging on ballot questions, it’s more unusual for academic libraries to have their fate decided at the polls, at least directly (rather than by elected officials). But that’s the position several New Mexico academic libraries are in: though General Obligation Bond Bill B was approved by the state legislature in February and signed by the governor in March, according to the New Mexico State Library, it must also be approved by voters this fall.
The bond bill, if passed, would provide $519,881 to New Mexico State University (NMSU). While that’s only a small part of the $9.7 million the bond bill provides for New Mexico libraries in general, it makes a big difference to the university. “The NMSU Library relies on bond funds in order to maintain its collection,” NMSU Library Dean Elizabeth Titus said in a statement. GO bonds provide up to 25 percent of New Mexico academic library materials.
NMSU’s Las Cruces campus would see the lion’s share of the funding, at $386,090; Dona Ana Community College would get $83,349; Alamogordo, $26,442; Carlsbad, $13,539, and NMSU Grants, $10,461. Other academic libraries around the state would benefit as well.
Public, academic, and school libraries would each receive $3 million to purchase materials; tribal libraries would receive $700,000 for materials and construction, according to bondsforlibraries.org, a website maintained by the New Mexico Library Association’s Bonds for Libraries Special Interest Group. The bond issue, which would cost taxpayers 56 cents per $100,000 of assessed property value, would be the sixth such issue passed biannually since 2002.