By ERNESTO CISNEROS
Library staff, patrons, and local dignitaries celebrated the grand re-opening of the Questa Public Library on Saturday, June 12. The library had been under construction since April 2020 to complete an expansion to the existing building which would become the new Senator Carlos Cisneros Wing. The addition houses space for a reception area, public meeting space, archive room, and a kids reading room.
The ceremony kicked off with speakers who emphasized the importance of public libraries. Among those were Friends of the Questa Public Library President (FQPL) Evelyn Coggins, State Sen. Bobby Gonzales (D-Taos), Nick Maestas, representing US Sen. Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), Village of Questa Mayor Mark Gallegos, Questa Library Director Sharon Nicholson, and Kit Carson Electric and Guzman Energy representatives.
Coggins led the ceremony in remembrance of two individuals who fought hard for this project to be possible—the late Village of Questa Mayor Esther Garcia and late State Senator Carlos Cisneros. Garcia championed the works of a library expansion under her reign as mayor and throughout the Gallegos administration. Garcia lobbied Senator Cisneros to secure funding for this expansion, which was eventually included in the New Mexico Legislature’s 2019 capital spending bill. Before his death, Cisneros also co-sponsored Senate Bill NMSB264, signed by Gov. Michelle Luján Grisham, to preserve rural libraries by expanding funding through endowment and grant programs.
Mayor Gallegos paid homage to Garcia by reflecting on her persistence to get this expansion completed. “I will always remember that Mrs. Garcia would say, ‘Mark, you know we gotta get that library money; I’m going to be here for a while.’ I said ‘Alright Esther, we’ll figure this out, we’ll figure this out,’” Gallegos said.
Gallegos also spoke about the library’s importance to the community, stating how it’s become an important place for individuals to research, conduct business, or just visit with their neighbors.
Questa Library Director Sharon Nicholson shared her gratitude to the Village of Questa as well as the many individuals who were involved in making this project happen. In her speech, Nicholson jokingly pointed out other improvements while informing us about the forthcoming projects for the library, such as an electric vehicle charging station, parking lot improvements, and outdoor lighting.
When asked why this expansion was important to her, Nicholson noted how small the original space was, including the library community. Expansion was inevitable. “When I became librarian… it was new, we hadn’t been here very long, and it was already too small. It wasn’t just books, it was people. We needed more room for people, and then I realized the board had already started an idea and had commissioned a design for the library and I could see, yeah! we need that, but it wasn’t going to happen—and then I realized it could happen!” Nicholson said. “I had the plans on the wall and I looked at them every day. It became a reality to me and the more I looked, the more I said, ‘We need to do this. We need something really special for the people of Questa.’ Just because we’re Questa and an impoverished community, doesn’t mean we have to have a poor library. We can have something really nice for our people, so that became the goal,’’ Nicholson said.
Lunch was provided after the ceremony by Kit Carson Electric, while northern New Mexico musician Chris Arellano performed.