AZTEC — The Aztec Public Library got an unexpected stocking stuffer for the holidays.
Thanks to the legislative efforts of Sen. Carroll Leavell, R-Jal, who serves on the state's Senate Finance Committee, libraries across the state got a boost in state aid for fiscal year 2013-2014. The state's Grants in Aid to Public Libraries program rose because of an additional $150,000 appropriation to benefit public libraries statewide from Leavell's District 41. The funding comes from the 51st Legislature's General Appropriation Act of 2013.
Of that, the Aztec Public Library will see $6,852 -- twice the amount it usually receives from the state each year.
The supplemental grant money, which must be spent by June 30, 2014, can be used on library collections, staff salaries and training, equipment and operational expenditures associated with library services.
On Tuesday, Aztec commissioners approved the current fiscal year's agreement with the state librarian, Devon Skeele, to follow city and state procurement requirements for purchases.
"We're really excited about (the increase in state funding)," said Sabrina Hood, the Aztec Public Library's director. "The senator and Governor (Susana) Martinez have shown that they see the needs statewide for greater support of libraries, which is great. Governor Martinez has really pushed for heightened literacy this year. I wrote a letter thanking them. It wasn't expected."
A large chunk of the funding will go toward replacing or adding to hardware and software for the library's 18 computers, Hood said.
"We will be looking at technology upgrades and certainly adding more books -- and e-books -- to our collection," she said. "The more services we can provide, the better."
With increased digital offerings, Hood would also like to revamp the library's website with greater user interactivity and resources like computer training information. She is also pushing for greater training in the library. The library hosts job search training for patrons and groups like the National Indian Youth Council.
Though small -- the library has four full-time and two part-time workers -- Aztec's library also relies on its volunteers, from San Juan College faculty who offer free classes at the library to Aztec High School seniors like Tristan Clah, who donates 15 to 20 hours of his free time each week.
Clah, 18, does everything that's needed: helping patrons find books, checking them out and shelving carts full of returned books. He has been coming to the library most his life. He began coming to the library's storytime hour at age 3.
"I just like helping people find what they want," Clah said. "I also like putting away the books. I start looking (at the titles) and notice all kinds of subjects and things I get curious about."