Hidalgo County Library
Marlene Siepel, Director
208 E. 3rd Street
Lordsburg, NM 88045
Hours of Operation
Monday - Friday 10 AM - Noon, 1 PM - 6PM
The earliest "library" in the county was a corner table in the foyer of the Star Theater (now Western Auto). It evolved into a collection of children's books gathered door-to-door by the 1919 Lordsburg Women's Club, housed in Mrs. Pippen's Confectionary Store, Dr. Egon's Corner Newsstand, and the basement of the Hidalgo County Courthouse. In 1928, the county began budgeting for a library, which established a citizens committee, purchased furnishings, and appointed the first librarian in the area, Mathilde Johnson.
The library was a WPA (Works Project Administration) building. The cornerstone was laid on December 7, 1936 and the building was completed in August of 1937. The original building housed the library (front), Health Department, and the Justice of the Peace. The Aztec-Pueblo style is pleasing and unique. It is designated a Historic Building on the New Mexico Cultural Properties Historic Preservation Registry and the National Registry of Historic Places.
The adobe wall around the library is even older, dating back to the Hidalgo County Courthouse Park, built in the 1920's. In 1988, 12 pioneer families donated the stained glass windows in the lobby atrium and the children's room.
Today, the library houses more than 22,000 volumes and occupies the entire building. It also features special collections of Reference, Southwest, Spanish, Children's, Grant Writing, Literacy, and Audio-Visual. It is one of only two libraries in the state which derives its primary funding from a county. It has also been supported by the city of Lordsburg and donations from private citizens and grants.
New Deal and WPA
When Franklin D. Roosevelt took presidential office in 1933, the Great Depression was in its fourth year. He was elected partly because he promised relief for the common man. He enacted the New Deal programs and the Works Progress Administration, which was later called Works Project Administration. The program put unemployed men to work in all areas of the county to build strength and self-respect in the working class. The projects, both in the process of putting people to work and in the resulting buildings, greatly impacted the suffering nation and especially the Southwest, which was also in a severe drought.
In its eight years, more than $11 billion was spent on WPA projects that developed and sustained public roads, 125,000 buildings, airports, dams, sewers, parks, bridges, and city halls. Art and writing projects received seven percent of the budget and created beautiful national treasures. Over eight million Americans who had been jobless were put to work.
By 1935, over one-half of all NM residents were enrolled in one or more New Deal program (population was then 425,000). They worked for the WPA, Civil Works Administration, Public Works Administration, Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), National Youth Administration, and the Rural Electric Administration. The WPA also furnished teachers, doctors and nurses, actors and musicians, artists, and writers.
Other WPA buildings in Hidalgo County are
Lordsburg City Hall
Hidalgo County Fairgrounds
Sunset Canal Dam
Port of Entry
Virden High School