Originally organized by members of Beta Sigma Phi in the 1950’s, the library was housed in the Ruidoso Federated Woman’s Club Building on South Evergreen Road in the Village of Ruidoso. Sorority President, and Worthy Grand Matron, Jocelyn (Jo) Leland’s record of those earliest days has been lost, but well remembered names include Margaret (Maggie) Leland, Earlene Phillips, and Mrs. John Thompson. This Library was funded entirely by donations and staffed by volunteers under the supervision of Murray Weindorf, a retired librarian.
In 1960 the Village of Ruidoso accepted governance of the Library and created the Library Advisory Board. Jane Parks served as the first President of the Advisory Board. The Library was then moved to Old City Hall on Wingfield Street, a building which had previously been a school, and is currently Ruidoso Athletic Club (RAC). Jo Leland employed Pat Ward, a college graduate with a degree in Library Science. There, beside the Village Jail and Police Station, Pat Ward, Village Librarian, presided over the Library that was housed in two small dark rooms.
After 1966 the library was moved to the old airport terminal located approximately where the Convention Center now stands. Here Ruth McGuire Spiegel directed the Library enjoying a larger, brighter space, Village of Ruidoso funding, and State Aid.
With the foresight of both the Library Advisory Board and Village officials, the building at Junction and Sudderth was built in 1975. Various librarians served at this location which is now the Community Center. The first of these librarians was Monese Barron; she was followed by Kathy Moore Flannery, Marion Elzy, and then Mary Lou Gooch who served until her retirement in 1993.
Nestled in the tall pines next to a four mile nature walk, the present library was designed by A.S.A. Architects and constructed in 1997 under the direction of Nancy Osterberg and Village Manager, Allen Briley. This beautiful facility is two-story, ADA-compliant, energy efficient, and contains 14,600 square feet. A view of Sierra Blanca is center stage when one enters the lobby. Tall vaulted windows, a garden maintained by the Lincoln County Garden Club, an outdoor reading patio, the Friends’ Book Shoppe, and comfortable window seats enhance the experience. We must not forget to mention an Archive room with climate control containing microfilm, 1st edition monographs, the New Mexico collection, and Genealogy resources.
Phyllis Reed became director in 2002 and technology began to soar. The Library went from three public access computers in 2002 to twenty-nine public access computers and two self-check machines in 2006. The Library now has open access Wi-Fi, an enhanced catalog, and an e-branch with access to downloadable e-books, audio-books, magazines, and much more.
Today a staff of six annually checks out and restocks over 100,000 books, DVDs, and CDs, issues cards to over 1,500 patrons, assists computer users during over 20,000 sessions, provides services for 200,000 visitors, programs for over 5,000 people of all ages, and maintains a website with services for remote customers through the e-branch.
What a group of remarkable women began – with the help of numerous volunteers, donors, officials, and library patrons – has grown from a few shelves in the Ruidoso Woman’s Club to a community treasure that provides books, information, technology, and knowledge for the masses.