Magdalena library director Ivy Stover teaches a computer coding class for ages 5-14, sponsors an adult book club and does story time and arts and crafts for school children. She develops their book collection, manages their history museum, writes grants, does facility management and more.

Ivy has a Masters of Library Science (MLS) degree. She is paid $12 per hour. Half her monthly salary doesn’t cover her student loan payment. She lives with her parents. She loves her job and community, but her situation is not sustainable. The average salary for an MLS library director nationwide is about $70,000 per year.

Ivy says it is not the Village’s fault they can’t pay her more. Their commercial sector is too small to provide a sufficient tax base.

It’s common in New Mexico that rural library directors make between $12 to $15 per hour. From Clayton to Lordsburg, Fort Sumner to Tularosa, and Questa to Gila, dedicated directors educate and help solve problems for their communities but don’t make a living wage.

They deserve professional salaries. Their villages deserve well-paying jobs. The state needs to step up.

Rural libraries are crucial tools to sustain their communities. They usually provide their villages’ only free internet and community gathering space. They help with disaster relief, economic development, all ages education, child well-being, and cultural preservation. We should support organizations that work.

In a bipartisan vote the legislature established a rural library endowment in 2019. The goal is a $1 million endowment for each of 50 libraries in unincorporated towns, villages and pueblos. With a fully funded endowment, each library would receive about $45,000 per year. It currently holds $13 million. An additional $37 million is needed.

This year Governor Michelle Lujan-Grisham requested $15 million. There will be over $3 billion in reserves, the “rainy day fund.” It’s pouring in rural New Mexico now.

Small towns are hemorrhaging population, partly due to the lack of good jobs. This relatively small investment in communities throughout the state would have a huge impact.

Please contact the governor’s office and your legislative representatives to request full funding for the rural library endowment. You may view a short trailer about an upcoming film highlighting the work of New Mexico’s rural libraries here: https://vimeo.com/763849930 . It includes Ivy in action in Magdalena.

Shel Neymark



Shel Neymark, Embudo