Los Ranchos Mayor Larry Abraham and tv personality/author Carla Aragon unveil the first Little Free Library in Los Ranchos. Courtesy photo
Los Ranchos Village unveiled the first Little Free Library Oct. 11 at the Los Ranchos Village Council Meeting.
The idea came from Barbe Awalt, LPD Press/Rio Grande Books and the NM & AZ Book Awards, and Carla Aragon, UNM Press author and TV personality, who had the idea at the same time. Aragon is married to Los Ranchos Board of Trustees member Allen Lewis. Lewis presented the idea and got a green light from Mayor Larry Abraham and the Board of Trustees to pursue the project.
The first Library will be located between the Village of Los Ranchos Hall on Rio Grande Blvd and the park next door. The Libraries are recycled newspaper boxes so they can withstand weather.
The idea behind Little Free Libraries is to take a book and return a book but if someone takes a book and can’t leave one, that’s OK too. According to Awalt, “The whole purpose is to have people reading great books – and most of the books donated are New Mexico books.” Books in the Library appeal to adults, children, and tweens.
There are romance novels, travel books, mysteries, poetry books, cookbooks, the history of the Albuquerque Dukes, neon signs of Central Ave., and of course the history of Balloon Fiesta (appropriate this week!). Little Free Libraries are global with more than 25,000 libraries (The Free Little Library Book by Margret Aldrich, 2015, Coffee House Press).
Authors represented are: North Valley resident Ross Van Dusen, Rio Rancho author Sabra Brown Steinseik, Los Ranchos resident Frank Bacon, Rio Rancho Observer Sports Editor Gary Herron, Albuquerque icon Tony Hillerman, Los Ranchos resident Carla Aragon, Corrales author Henrietta Martinez Christmas, Rio Rancho historian Don Bullis, Los Ranchos resident Paul Rhetts, Albuquerque Rounders Award Winner and syndicated newsman Slim Randles, Los Ranchos author Barbe Awalt, Pat Hodapp – Director of the Santa Fe Library, Rio Rancho Coretta Scott King Award winner Vaunda Nelson, Albuquerque, Rio Rancho, and Tijeras authors Dick Brown, Tom McConnell, John Davis, Charlotte Kinney, Dick Rice, John Sena, and Kim Vesely with many more. The value of the donated books is over $5,000.
Most of the books donated to the Library were entered in the 2017, 11th NM & AZ Book Awards and most are Finalists. The Winners will be announced November 17, 2017, at Tanoan Country Club. The Book Awards are a project of the NM Book Co-op, the largest book organization in New Mexico with over 2,000 members. Each year the books entered in the national book competition are donated to libraries, so this was a natural. This is not LPD Press/Rio Grande Books’ first Little Free Library donation – they contributed books to the Bernalillo County Little Free Libraries a few years ago. If the interest in the Little Free Library continues, each year new books can augment the Los Ranchos Little Free Libraries from the NM& AZ Book Awards. The second Library will be placed on 4th Street near the Fire Department, at a future date.
The art for one of the Little Free Libraries was painted by local artist and bookseller Elaine Lewis. The day to day is handled by Los Ranchos Village Administrator Kelly Ward. The New Mexico Book Co-op will provide books for the Little Free Library along with residents Barbe Awalt and Paul Rhetts. Mayor Abraham and Carla Aragon provided the first books.
Awalt explained, “We would have not gotten traction with this idea if it were not for Carla, Allen, and Larry with the entire Board of Trustees. They support literacy in New Mexico and Los Ranchos.”
Los Ranchos Trustee Allen Lewis and Carla Aragon. Courtesy photo
Carla Aragon. Courtesy photo