ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Patrons were greeted with a new interior and a mostly new collection when the North Valley Library opened in April after extensive smoke damage from a small fire closed it down last summer.
Insurance paid for the $800,000 in repairs and new books, but donations to the Albuquerque Public Library Foundation allowed officials to add enhancements not there before the fire. The foundation will host an open house from 3 to 5 p.m. Sunday at the library, 7704 Second NW, which will include a talk on the importance of libraries by former Journal columnist Jim Belshaw.
Money from donors paid for new comfortable furniture in the adult and young adult section, as well as creating an early literacy center that targets young children. The center provides themed kits that families can check out and take home.
The kits include books, toys, puzzles and games. There are also tips on how parents can foster more reading at home. At the library, they can participate in literacy activities that incorporate talking, reading, writing, playing and singing.
In all, the foundation received 45 donations totaling $17,800 to the library. The largest chunk came from local attorney Sara N. Sanchez, who donated $10,000 in honor of her grandfather Benjamin Nathanson. He was a longtime journalist who started a small community newspaper in Michigan in the 1930s, selling it out of the trunk of his car.
“With that newspaper, he was able to take a stand on a lot of things, especially civil rights,” she said. “There was a lot of turmoil back then. He felt very strongly about literacy and keeping people informed.”
Nathanson died in 2012 at the age of 97 and left instructions that a certain percentage of his trust be donated to charity.
He designated specific organizations but left the rest up to Sanchez, his only grandchild. Sanchez and her husband frequent the Los Griegos library with their 1-year-old and 5-year-old boys.
“When I heard what happened to the North Valley Library, I was sad,” she said. “I know if he (my grandpa) had been here and heard that news, he would want to step up and help out.”
In July 2013, a vandal or vandals broke into the library after hours and started a fire in the children’s section.
The incident caused major smoke damage to the 14,000 square-foot building, destroying 80 percent of the 50,000 collection.
The building was gutted, repainted and new light fixtures, carpet, heating and cooling system were installed.
The investigation is ongoing, and nobody has been arrested in the incident.