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October 19, 2020 - The November 2020 General Election will be crucial for many reasons, but especially for academic libraries across the state of New Mexico. General Obligation (GO) Bond B, if passed, will provide publicly funded New Mexico libraries with a total of $9.5 million to help with a variety of resources.

Broken down, GO Bond B will provide $3 million each for public, academic and public school libraries, and $500,000 for tribal libraries. If Bond B is approved by voters, nearly 30 academic libraries, including each of UNM’s campus libraries – UNM Main, UNM Health Sciences Library and Informatics Center (HSLIC), UNM–Gallup, UNM Los Alamos, UNM Taos and UNM Valencia, will receive much needed funding to support the success of college and university students in New Mexico by providing improved access to quality resources and information as well as access to many essential online resources even more important now as students and faculty rely on digital access during the pandemic.

Many libraries throughout New Mexico do not currently have the capability to serve their respective communities. Approximately 40 percent of New Mexico libraries report they do not provide broadband internet access. Of this, approximately 24 percent are related specifically to academic libraries. In terms of equipment, about 25 percent of New Mexico libraries provide services with outdated computers that are five or more years old; 16 percent of academic libraries reported that they have computers that are 3-4 years old, 20 percent had computers 4-5 years old, 24 percent had computers that were older than 5 years.

Staffing at libraries is also problematic with 84 percent of libraries reporting that their staffing budget has decreased or stayed the same in the last three years. Academic libraries report the highest percentage of decreased budgets, but they were one of the first entities to step up when the pandemic hit last winter.

The New Mexico Consortium of Academic Libraries (NMCAL) negotiates a consortia two-year subscription to 12 databases from the EBSCO Corporation which are provided to all publicly supported academic libraries in the state. The hefty cost of the subscription is taken off-the-top of the libraries' bond fund allocations ($4 million in the 2018 Bond; $3 million in the 2020 Bond) so that all college students have the same baseline of resources regardless of campus type or location. The UNM-Gallup Zollinger Library has used and will continue to use its allocated funds to subscribe to additional databases, film collections and to purchase books, student-use laptops, wifi hotspots, etc. The 2018 bond allocation provided $38,000 to enhance the library's acquisition of resources to specifically support students in our rural location.

EBSCO databases provided by 2018 GO Bond B funds include: Environment Complete, Points of View Reference Center, eBook Subscription Academic Collection, History Reference Center, CINAHL Complete (Nursing & Allied Health), Applied Science & Technology Source, Science Reference Center, Small Business Reference Center, Criminal Justice Abstracts with Full Text, Literary Reference Center, Education Research Complete and Academic Search Complete

Since the 2020 bond will provide $1 million less to academic libraries than the 2018 bond, the consortium may not be able to continue providing access to the same databases. It is essential that the 2020 GO Bond B pass to continue supporting New Mexico's college students with high-quality resources. As noted in an Albuquerque Journal editorial on Sunday, October 11, 2020, the bond is projected to cost property owners with a $100,000 assessed value just $0.54 cents per year over 10 years.

“What better way to spend 54 cents per year,” exclaims Cecilia Stafford, library director for UNM-Gallup’s Zollinger Library.

For more information, please visit this resource prepared by the UNM Health Sciences Library & Informatics Center: GO Bond Issue B: What is it and how does it affect us?

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