Because There's Power in Coalition

Library professionals from throughout New Mexico have been rallying around a common theme for the last two years: transformation. Libraries Transform New Mexico has emerged as an overarching theme for statewide conferences, as well as a common refrain in their local legislative efforts.

New Mexico’s libraries first adopted the Libraries Transform campaign as a theme for their 2016 conference, co-sponsored by the New Mexico State Library and the New Mexico Library Association (NMLA). The conference brought together librarians, policy-makers and other local leaders to review a recent assessment of public, school, academic, tribal and special libraries across the state, providing an opportunity to critically reflect on how New Mexico’s libraries can continue to transform communities—focusing both on their achievements thus far and the possible challenges lying ahead.

This emphasis on transforming resonated with the local library community, so Libraries Transform New Mexico continued on as the theme for a subsequent follow-up conference as well as a “mini-conference” at which presenters were invited to focus their sessions around transformation. A Libraries Transform New Mexico Steering Committee formed to carry forward the work of assessing, celebrating and advocating for the state’s libraries. Looking ahead, New Mexico’s library community will continue to use Libraries Transform as a rallying cry for their advocacy. “It’s an empowering theme,” says NMLA President Marian Royal. “When you talk to a legislator, when you talk to an administrator, when you talk to a patron, it sounds really powerful. It catches people’s attention.”

One major success for the Libraries Transform New Mexico Steering Committee thus far has been their legislative push to increase internet access for the state’s libraries. They worked with State Rep. Candie Sweetser to put forward an appropriations bill to fund broadband infrastructure for New Mexico’s libraries; the bill passed with wide support from the state house and senate and was signed into law in March 2018. “Too many communities, particularly those in rural areas, understand the difficulty of accessing the internet from home,” Rep. Sweetser said in a statement. “This bipartisan legislation invests in broadband infrastructure so that all New Mexicans can have access to the internet in their schools and libraries, which is critical for New Mexicans to be able to succeed.”

Looking ahead, New Mexico’s library community will continue to use Libraries Transform as a rallying cry for their legislative advocacy. “It’s an empowering theme,” says NMLA President Marian Royal. “When you talk to a legislator, when you talk to an administrator, when you talk to a patron, it sounds really powerful. It catches people’s attention.”

Royal credits the unified nature of the Libraries Transform New Mexico Steering Committee with much of their success thus far—“there’s power in numbers and there’s power in coalition,” she advises fellow library advocates looking to make change. “This theme has been most effective for us when we’ve banded together across types of libraries and across organizations as well. We all work together all the time.”

Learn more about Libraries Transform New Mexico.

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