22 June 2011

Genealogical collection to stay at Albuquerque Main Library

The following message was sent to me by email on May 31st, but I have been unable to access my email for the past few weeks. Therefore, I apologize for posting this late, but I hope this information will be useful to you. - Robert Baca, President, New Mexico Genealogical Society

Dean P. Smith, Director
Albuquerque/Bernalillo County Libraries
501 Copper St. NW, Albuquerque, NM 87102

An open letter to all the supporters and volunteers of the Special Collections Library

Thank you to all who have shared your thoughts and concerns about the Special Collections Library and the materials housed there. After consultations with Library staff, customers, stakeholders, and City Hall, I have decided to leave the Genealogy Collections at the Main Library on Copper and 5th. The Local History, New Mexicana, Archives, and Center for the Book collections will remain at the Special Collections building on Central and Edith. We plan to re-open the Special Collections building in late August or September.

I understand that for some supporters of the Genealogy collections this will not be an acceptable arrangement. I certainly regret this decision being the cause of stress, frustration, or sadness for any volunteers, customers or supporters. These collections would not be the outstanding treasures that they are today without the many contributions of volunteers and supporters.

I have weighed many options and factors in determining the best way to meet the needs of the community, encourage the use of the historical collections, and honor the history and architecture of the Special Collections building. This arrangement is the most beneficial to the greatest number of customers at this time.

Many customers approached Library staff and suggested that the genealogy materials stay at the Main Library as they find the space more conducive to research, the available hours better, and the nearby amenities, such as restaurants, to be better. Many others have told staff they feel strongly about the Special Collections building and the appropriateness of all historical materials being housed in that one location.

Here are some of the factors that had to be considered:
· All of these collections must have space to expand. If all of the historical collections including Genealogy, Local History, Archives, New Mexicana, and the Center for the Book, move back to the Special Collections Library there will be no room for growth.

· The present stack arrangement at the Special Collections Library must be closed to the public. The current configuration of the stacks and the multiple access points to them are not conducive to the necessary supervision or the appropriate security. The present stack arrangement, narrow and with many dead ends, is most suitable to a closed stacks approach.

· The Genealogy collections are best on open and accessible shelves. The remaining historical collections, especially the archival and unique, are more suited to closed stacks.

· Parking at Main is now more convenient on weekdays with multiple pay lots and a parking garage available, with two free hours, as well as metered parking and public transportation.

· Parking around the Special Collections building has changed in the last six months as two hour metered spaces have been installed all along and just off of Central, and residents only parking is being set up in front of the adjacent residences all along Edith and Copper.

· Genealogy is the most used special collection. Having Genealogy at the Main Library provides an additional 10 hours of public service including Mondays and two evenings.

· Meetings and programs on local history and genealogy can be held in either location depending on which venue most suits the style of program, the space requirements and the time. Large events can be held in the community room or auditorium at the Main Library, while smaller events can be out on the 2nd floor where the Genealogy collection is housed. Medium sized events can be held at the Special Collections building in Botts Hall, and small events in the Center for the Book or the New Mexicana Room. Because of the new parking restrictions at Special Collections, events there will best be limited to weekday evenings and Saturdays.

Again, thank you for your interest in the Special Collections building and the historical collections. Please understand that this was not an easy decision to make nor was it made lightly.

At this time, I have determined this to be the most appropriate use of the historical ‘old main’ building at Central and Edith; the best way to assure all the collections can grow and thrive; and the most appropriate provision of access to all the treasures that make up the various historical collections of the Albuquerque / Bernalillo County Libraries.


Dean P. Smith, Director
Albuquerque / Bernalillo County Libraries