Mission Statement

The El Rito Library furthers the aims of education for the public by serving as a portal through which individuals and families may obtain information, and acquire skills and experience for enlightenment, enjoyment and empowerment.

Service Area

We serve approximately 40 villages of eastern Rio Arriba and southwestern Taos counties ranging in population from 1,400 in El Rito to hamlets with populations below 100. The nearest public library is Abiquiu which is sixteen (16) miles and Española which is approximately thirty (30) miles in distance.


The El Rito Library opened in 1986 in a small room of a late 1930s-era adobe schoolhouse then occupied by Las Clinicas del Norte, a local health center. Andy R. Lopez helped start the Library in 1986 as part of an initiative by the El Rito Betterment Association. A Rio Arriba County Senior Citizen program occupied another room in the building.

After its founding in 1986, the library operated for several years on a volunteer basis, and was open only a few hours a week. Ten years later the library was still located in cramped quarters, but hours had expanded to 20 per week, and the one-person, part-time staff was now paid, thanks to a few essential grants from private foundations.

By the mid 1990s, the yearly operating budget hovered around $20,000, and by 1998, through meeting several stringent requirements, the library was accorded official status as a public library.

In 1999 Las Clinicas del Norte vacated the schoolhouse and occupied a new health center building nearby. this allowed the library to renovate the building and undertake a four-fold expansion in size. A capital-improvement grant from the New Mexico Youth Conservation Corps, supplemental funding from the Los Alamos Foundation, and an outpouring of volunteers and community donations made this possible.

Construction was completed in early 2000; a Grand Opening of the new library was held on February 1. At this time, the staff had expanded slightly to 1.00 FTE.  Other major renovations have been made.  A new roof was installed and two of the original classrooms have been completely renovated and now house our fiction and non-fiction collection.  We also have a new children's room just for the kids to call their own.  The library now consists of four rooms, a community room and two bathroooms.  The staff is currently at 2.0 FTE.

Coinciding with the renovation was a shift in governance, as the library reorganized under its own nonprofit 501 (c) (3) status, with its own board of directors.

The El Rito Library is recognized as a Non-Profit Corporation in the State of New Mexico and is on the Attorney General’s list of Charitable Organizations. As of today, the staff is now at 2.0 FTE.