Rep. Luján secures 1,500 new books for La Farge Branch Library
The popular La Farge Branch Library was one of the many communitywide casualties of the late July floods, with thousands of books soaked and destroyed as the extraordinary rain event pummeled through the roof.
Helping hands have emerged, some from high places.
U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján has secured a commitment of 1,500 brand-new replacement books for the midtown city library.
“We got the most pleasurable phone call from his office,” said Pat Hodapp, city library director.
The Library of Congress will make the books available through its surplus books program at Luján’s request, the congressman’s spokeswoman said.
“We’re still working with La Farge to find out what they need,” said Victoria Oms.
The July 23 deluge struck the library’s children’s section particularly hard. At least 2,000 books — children’s Spanish books, biographies, nonfiction and research books, mainly — were lost.
Although the Library of Congress program cannot replace books title-for-title, it will prioritize selected genres, Oms said. The library has expressed a preference for children’s and Spanish books.
Luján’s office will pay to ship the books whenever the library — which has been closed since the flooding as cleanup progresses — is ready to receive them. Oms said she expects the progress could take a few months in total.
There have been other community aid efforts. Violet Crown offered to donate $1 for every movie ticket sold on Sunday and the Casa Chimayo restaurant raised more than $200 at a weekend library fundraiser, Hodapp said.
“Every day dozens of checks come in,” she said. “It’s a terrible thing to have happen but people are so understanding. We have not lost [the library]. It’s a matter of getting the final cleanup done.”
Workers continue to check books for signs of damp, and a clean-air test is still needed. Hodapp said she hoped the library could reopen within the next week.
“Libraries provide children and communities with incredible opportunities to be moved by and learn from the written word,” Luján said in a statement. “I am happy to have found a way to help the La Farge Library continue their service to the community.”