Hobbs Library hosting eclipse day event
Activities will be out of this world Oct. 14 when the Hobbs Public Library hosts a viewing event for the upcoming annular solar eclipse — and they want you to be involved too.
Library Director Nicki Lawless filled the library’s board of directors in on the plans during its monthly meeting Tuesday.
Those plans include games, crafts, a storyteller and a chance to view a “once in a lifetime event,” board members said.
The eclipse watch party kicks off a 9 a.m., Lawless said. To make viewing easier — and safer — the library will give out hundreds of pairs of “eclipse glasses” during the event.
The National Park Service cautions approved eclipse glasses, or similar designated devices that filter sunlight, are the only safe way to view an eclipse.
There will be no safe time to look directly at the annular eclipse, which leaves a “ring of fire” from the sun visible as the moon passes between it and earth.
Even as the sky darkens in preparation for the eclipse, storyteller Eldrena Douma will present her take on the event at 9:30 a.m., with “The Natural Curiosity of the Eclipse.”
Douma, from Canyon, Texas, started as a storyteller in her youth on both Laguna and Hopi-Tewa tribal lands in west New Mexico and eastern Arizona. She learned an appreciation for the oral traditions of her family and other tribal members from stories told her by her Tewa-Hopi grandmother.
And Douma is no stranger to eastern New Mexico. She earned a master’s degree in elementary and early childhood education from Eastern New Mexico University in Portales and taught before shifting to storytelling full time.
Today she travels across the country sharing stories of her Pueblo heritage along with tales and legends from other North American tribes.
“We were really excited to find a storyteller” to participate in the eclipse event, Lawless said. “We really wanted a family-fun event.”
Sarah Reid, board vice chair, agreed.
“I’m very impressed the storyteller has a degree from Eastern New Mexico University,” Reid said. “I’m glad somebody is coming to enlighten us who’s not from Albuquerque.”
Following the eclipse, the library will host a crafting event with refreshments. Eclipse day also marks the first Saturday hours for the Hobbs Public Library in a long time. And going forward, the library will continue to be open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays to give increased access to the community, Lawless said.
Lawless has already hired additional personnel to help staff the expanded hours, she said, with more hires in the works. She’s currently interviewing for assistant library director and teen librarian positions to enhance operations at the facility.
Once an assistant director is hired, who will act as direct supervisor over other staff, Lawless plans to hire additional “public facing” positions, she said. She hopes to have the new positions filled by the end of the year.
In other business:
• The board approved new vision and mission statements for the library. The most recent vision and mission of the Hobbs Public Library were adopted July 1, 2020, and expired June 30 this year.
The expired documents, including the HPL mission statement, really only defined the minimum of what a library — specifically the Hobbs library — should do to serve the community, Lawless told the board at its meeting in August.
“We should not be delineating who we won’t serve,” she said. A mission statement “should say what we can offer to those we do serve.
The mission statement adopted by a 4-0 vote Tuesday reads: “To enrich lives and inspire creativity, curiosity and literacy through access to information and entertainment for a multicultural community of all ages.” The new vision statement calls for “building a better community through lifelong learning.”
• Lawless also told the board she’s working on a new strategic plan for the library. The most recent plan expired at the same time as the former mission and vision statements, right about the time Lawless became director.
While the previous strategic planned served its purpose, Lawless said, more needs to be done. To that end, she’s looking into several options, including expanded digital resources offered by the library, doing more to fulfill both recreational and educational needs of younger patrons and increasing services for teens, young adults and older Hobbs residents.
“Libraries aren’t all about increasing academics,” Reid said. “They’re about building the pleasure of reading, making it fun.”
• Lawless reported on an ongoing “weeding” process at HPL, removing old or outdated books and reference material from the collection or books that haven’t been used in a while. To date, library staff have gathered about 4,600 books over the past three months that fit the “weeding” criteria, she said.
In the future, once the process is complete, the library will host an auction to dispose of the books. Libraries in New Mexico are limited as to what they can do with unused or unwanted public property under the state’s anti-donation law, Lawless said.
In other states, culled books would be donated to schools, literacy programs or other libraries, for example. But “that’s not an option with the gift laws,” she said.
“We’re looking at a large volume of books,” Lawless said. “But the collection needs to be cleaned out.”
Weeding the collection usually happens more frequently. But it’s been a while since HPL’s collection was culled, in part because of challenges over the past three years from the COVID-19 pandemic.
• During her report on monthly usage, Lawless told the board patronage decreased from normal during September. She blamed the week-long closure of the library due to air conditioner issues that needed repair. But the library is open again, she said, and she expects patronage numbers to increase for October and beyond.