Rio Arriba Independent Libraries (RAIL) provided the inspiration to create the initiative. RAIL is a coalition of five 501 (c)(3) libraries in Rio Arriba County. Each library was established through grassroots community efforts. RAIL libraries have worked together for about 20 years. None have a dependable source of operating funds. Despite offering invaluable resources, RAIL libraries frequently navigate fiscal crises and lead precarious existences.
An annual income of $45,000 per year would guarantee that libraries will continue offering needed resources to rural communities. They will still need additional community and foundation support, but basic needs would be met.
The Santa Fe Community Foundation has provided funds for a part time position to organize and promote the New Mexico Rural Library Initiative.
Shel Neymark, was a founder of the Embudo Valley Library and a volunteer for over 25 years. Presently a board member, he helped establish RAIL. Shel is doing most of the work of the initiative, with support from Felicity Fonseca, director of the Embudo Valley Library, other board members and community volunteers. Dixon native Charlotte Madueno coordinates social media for us. Libraries from around the state and the New Mexico Library Association provided invaluable support as we lobbied the legislature to create the endowment.
Below is a recent article from the Santa Fe New Mexican, detailing Shel's work at the library and the history of the Embudo Valley Library.