In February of 1965, the task of establishing a library was set in motion by Martha Liebert, Helen Elliott, Judy Blum, Stella Hill, Socorro Romero, Nora Frank, and Dorothy Darnell with Doris Lester and Ruth Hendrikson of Santa Fe.
For the next few months “volunteers” collected books from sources such as the Corrales and Placitas Libraries who contributed their duplicates. Donations were also received from Our Lady of Sorrows School in Bernalillo and St Joseph College. Mayor Hilario J. Torres offered the north room of the city hall as a location for the library. Wood for shelving was given by N.M. Timber, the construction and installation labor was donated by carpenters from the Bernalillo Public Schools, and VFW members painted the completed shelving.
In October of 1966 the library was officially incorporated. In January of 1967, Mary Aguilar was elected president of the Library Board. In July the city contributed $500 to purchase books and a typewriter.
In 1969 the library moved to the newly constructed community building located behind the Roosevelt School. The city furnished a rug and heater which was installed by OEO, and in September of that same year the building was dedicated.
In October of 1969 a new Library Board was organized. Story hour, arts and crafts, recreation and games made up the Library Program. Manpower employees kept the library open eighteen hours per week. In January 1970 formal by-laws were written and a budget of eight hundred seventy five dollars was proposed.
Once again the library moved, with the permission of the Town Council, to the old Caldwell House. The entire building was re-wired with help from members of the VFW, and the lights came on Christmas Day 1974. When the old Caldwell house was demolished to make way for the subsequent construction of the Town Hall building on that site, the library was hosted by the Bernalillo Women’s Club.
In February of 1978 the library moved once again into the new Town Hall Building designed by architect
G.L Castillo. The building was famous for its circular wrought iron staircase. The library was housed in this building until 1995 when it was moved to 134 Calle Malinche; located in the restored Roosevelt Building. The library shared the downstairs floor with the K-2 elementary school library. The library collection consisted of approximately seventeen thousand volumes, including those kept as reference in the Southwest Room.
The Southwest Room
In November 1997 the Southwest Room in the Town of Bernalillo’s library was formally dedicated and is in honor of Martha Liebert for her part in starting the collection.
This is a special collection of books and periodicals about the history, geography, and culture of the southwest that focuses on New Mexico, but also includes materials from Colorado, Arizona, and Utah. Books in this collection are not available for check out. They are intended for reading within the library.
The Roosevelt Building
The Roosevelt Building is a 1930’s two-story adobe and viga building. The ten thousand square foot plus building was built by the Works Projects Administration (WPA). The building was part of the Bernalillo Public School System, and was the first public school in Bernalillo, (often called “Escuelita 1-2-3” by the locals) but had fallen into disuse and abandonment. A joint venture between Bernalillo Public Schools, the Town of Bernalillo and Sandoval County, to fulfill common needs, led to joint funding through Bernalillo Public Schools and a Capital Outlay Appropriation of the 1993 New Mexico Legislature for the renovation of the building.
The building was reroofed and restuccoed, and received new windows. A new elevator and stairs were added to the back of the building and new mechanical and electrical systems were added. The new additions included restrooms, mechanical rooms, stairways and an elevator to make the building handicap accessible.
Future plans included restoration of the upstairs interiors to classrooms, community meeting rooms, office/workroom, and public restrooms. The west classroom was historically preserved with original light fixtures, chalkboards, and radiators. This room was available for various functions.
Dale Crawford and Associates Architects (DCA) worked closely with Ed Boles, Preservation Architect at the State Cultural Affairs Division, to design the renovation and addition to meet NPS standard for historical preservation. This project was nominated, and added too, both the National and State Historical Registers.
The Bernalillo Roosevelt Library building became the centerpiece of a revitalized area just west of Bernalillo Town Hall known as the Roosevelt Complex. What had been a collection of dilapidated, underused school buildings was now a lively complex including Head Start, Roosevelt Elementary School, a Cafeteria/Multipurpose building and a new school and public library. The building that children had feared, believing that it was haunted, was now a place they could go with their parents and learn about its past.
The Calle Malinche Location
In 2006, the library was moved once again and a re-dedication ceremony took place at the new location, 124 Calle Malinche. According to portions of the Town press release dated June 2006, Mayor Patricia A. Chavez, Library Director Juanita Montano and the Library Board announced the grand opening and re-dedication of the Town of Bernalillo Martha Liebert Public Library on Wednesday, June 21. “I see this facility as a center of learning. The initial visionary efforts of Martha Liebert, unquestionably a pioneer, has evolved into a valuable community resource – a dedicated place not only to gather information but also to exchange ideas that expand the mind”, Mayor Chavez stated.
During this time the library was under the directorship of Juanita Montano. The new location officially opened on May 22, 2006.
The new facility was constructed in a hacienda style with early territorial accents common to the Bernalillo area and in compliance with the character design guidelines of the Town of Bernalillo Main Street Overlay Ordinance. “The library was designed by Town Staff to fit appropriately in a residential neighborhood and to reflect the architectural styles of the traditional houses and historic Roosevelt Elementary that surrounded the new facility”, said Maria Rinaldi, Community Development Director for the Town.
Back to the Roosevelt
In July 2017 the Martha Liebert Public Library moved once again. Town and Library staff worked together over a nine-month period designing and rehabbing the Old Roosevelt Building making it the Library’s new home.
Within the two story structure the library has room to grow. The downstairs is all library consisting of an Adult Book Room; Tween/Teen Room with six computers, lots of books, and a study area; the Southwest Collection Room; DVD & Audio Book Room; a Sitting area with comfy chairs and sofa along with a chess table; and a large Children’s Room with three computers, lots and lots of books, a Lego table, puzzles, and games. There is also an express computer, printer, copier, and fax machine. Upstairs is where you will find the Adult Computer Lab with ten computers, a printer, and a copier, two event rooms, and two study rooms.
In the summer of 2018 a covered outdoor area, with picnic tables and benches was added to the north side of the library for patrons to sit outside and enjoy the warmth while using the WiFi.