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For Immediate Release

February, 2024


Celebrating Gold!

The Friends of the Santa Fe Public Library Announce 

50th Anniversary 


Santa Fe’s Public Library has come a long way since it opened in 1896. This year, the Friends of the Santa Fe Public Library celebrates 50 years of expanding support that has fueled the Library’s evolution and growth. Today the Library’s three branches offer services and programs for all ages with funding from the Friends.


In addition to books, the Library collection includes CDs, videos, audible books, movies, and newspapers. The libraries host music for babies, story time for toddlers in English and Spanish, chess for teens, on-site classes, and computers are available for all ages.


Founding of Santa Fe’s First Public Library


Notable women, including the eight founders of the Santa Fe Woman’s Board of Trade (WBT), have shaped the city of Santa Fe in countless ways over the years, but, perhaps the most demanding and longest-held commitment was the establishment and development of a public Library.


The WBT opened the first public library in Santa Fe on January 15, 1896, in four rooms of a dilapidated army barracks that later became the New Mexico Museum of Fine Arts. By January 1907, an entire building on Washington Avenue -- the Woman’s board of Trade Library – was constructed and formally opened.


The Library carried out innovative services such as books for wounded WWI soldiers, books for prisoners in the City Jail, an extension program serving 16 branch libraries in rural schools, and a book delivery program that served 23 city schools.


The Santa Fe Woman’s Club and Library Association


In 1932, the WBT merged with the Santa Fe Woman’s Club and Library Association adding such services as books for the County Juvenile Detention Center and services to area nursing homes.


In 1964, the City of Santa Fe bought the Main Library and began municipal ownership of the Santa Fe Public Library that continues to this day. The WBT Library building still stands on Washington Avenue as the New Mexico History Museum’s Fray Angelico Chavez History Library.

The Friends of the Santa Fe Public Library Yesterday and Today


The Friends of the Santa Fe Public Library was initiated with an open meeting of about 30 Santa Fe residents, including members of the Santa Fe Woman’s Club and Library Association, and was incorporated as an independent non-profit organization on June 17, 1974.


In 2024, The Friends mission remains the same: to support the public library by providing funding, advocacy, programming, services, and materials that enrich the diverse community it serves.


While the City provides essential support for staffing and maintenance, the Friends provide almost all the necessary funding required for library programs.


In celebration of its 50th Anniversary, the Friends announces three special events


On Saturday, February 3, Heather McClure, Librarian and Archivist for the Fray Angelico Chavez History Library, presented a special talk about the WBT and the history of libraries in Santa Fe and the West as well as the noted collections housed in the Chavez Library today.

Throughout 2024 a series of lively monthly talks and tours will delve into the mysteries of library operations Behind the Scenes starting February 21 from 6-7:30 covering Money & Mission at the Main Library.

On Sunday, March 3, David Farmer, author and former professor and Director of the

DeGolyer Library at Southern Methodist University, will present an illustrated talk featuring the work of writers who have captured and shaped the spirit and imagination of the Southwest. 


On Saturday, June 8, Lesley Poling-Kempes will be the featured speaker at a luncheon at La Fonda on the Plaza. Her talk will focus on Santa Fe classics, Ladies of the Canyons: A League of Extraordinary Women and Their Adventures in the American Southwest and The Harvey Girls.

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