Friends of Libraries and Literacy, Rio Rancho, Inc. is an all-volunteer, public 501(c)(3) non-profit charity incorporated in 1982. The Friends support libraries and fund literacy programs for children, teens and adults in Sandoval County, New Mexico using money raised through the sale of community-donated books and media at the FriendShop and at the FriendShopToo!

Books for Babies Bags for Newborns

Children who have a book-rich environment at home are more successful in school. Books for Babies is a national program to provide new parents with material to get started with reading to their baby.

The Books for Babies program is reopening after COVID shutdown. The Friends purchased and assembled an initial delivery of 150 bags to the Women’s and Children’s department at Rust Medical Center. More bags were delivered to CareNet and the local WIC (Women, Infants and Children) office. The goal is to provide every new mother in Sandoval County with a free bag of age-appropriate books and baby developmental materials.

Photo credit: Anne Goodman

Mary Roskom, Friends’ Books for Babies coordinator on the left, and a group of Friends delivered bags to Maria Schroeder BSN, RNC, assistant manager for Women’s and Children’s at Rust Medical Center.

Always Ready Book Reading and Signing

Local author Dr. Benjamin B. White read from his earlier books of poetry and his most recent book Always Ready: Poems from a Life in the Coast Guard to an appreciative audience at the FriendShop. After 22 years in the Coast Guard, Ben’s poetry is full of keen observations, humor, mischief, and tragedy.

I worked for a guy
I would work for
Anytime, anywhere …
And he told me
It was possible
To ski behind
A 44-foot Motor Lifeboat
Though he stopped short
Before telling me
How he knew that.
© 2022, Benjamin B. White

Ben White reading from "Always Ready"
Photo credit: Joe Driear

After the reading, Ben answered questions about his creative process and signed books.

Famous Author Series: Nasario Garcia

In the second Famous Author talk at the Martha Liebert Public Library, poet, folklorist, historian and author Nasario Garcia spoke about growing up spending summers with his maternal grandmother in Bernalillo. He also talked about “learning the land” in Guadalupe NM until a devastating drought forced his family to move to Albuquerque.

Nasario Garcia speaking about family and growing up in New Mexico.
Photo credit: Lorraine Garvey

After the talk, the author answered questions and signed books. The Friends provided funding for this celebration of the poet’s lifetime of achievement so it could be free to the public.

Mystery Time with Sisters in Crime

Local mystery writers from the Sisters in Crime writing group had a panel discussion at the FriendShop on the joys and challenges of writing mysteries.

From left to right: Sandy Hoover, Sue Hallgarth, Joan Golden and J.L. Greger
Photo credit: Joe Driear

They all agreed that working with publishers was difficult, especially when the publisher’s staff changes, but the most difficult and frustrating was publicizing their books.

Some Sisters approach a new book by carefully outlining the plot but others write the first 100 pages and then start an outline to “figure out where it’s going”. Everyone agreed that today’s books must be faster paced to meet the expectations of TV, movie and online audiences.

Lone Piñon: The Story of New Mexico’s Music

Lone Piñon, who have performed at Kennedy Center and the Library of Congress, delighted a standing-room-only crowd at the Martha Liebert Public Library in Bernalillo.

Starting with the classical influences from the French Court of Maximilian II in the mid 1500s, the acoustic conjunto of Karina (fiddle), Jordan (multiple including accordion), Tanya (bass) and Santiago (guitar) took the audience on a Nuevomexicano musical journey.

Photo credit: Joe Driear

They moved on to the changes in music brought by the opening of the Santa Fe Trail in 1822; by Border “Blaster” Radio in the 1930s; by Rhythm and Blues in the 1950s; and by Mariachi in the 1990s. At the end, they received a standing ovation from an audience that just wanted more!

The Friends provided funding to bring the community into the library for this free-to-the-public performance.

Slightly Scary Stories for Halloween

Indiana Bones (expert story teller Mike McCartney) thrilled an audience of children and adults alike with his slightly scary stories on the Friday before Halloween at the Martha Liebert Public Library in Bernalillo.

Photo credit: Danielle Threadgill, MLPL

The Friends provided funding for this free-to-the-public performance.

Adult Computer Literacy at ReadWest

ReadWest, Inc. is a non-profit adult literacy agency providing one-to-one tutoring sessions by trained, certified volunteers. Their adult computer literacy classes are very popular but class size is limited by the number of available computers since each student needs one.

Photo credit: Cyndy Ratliff, ReadWest

The Friends provided funding to ReadWest to buy three more laptops so they could expand this program.

Free Book Coupons for Students

The Friends are distributing one-free-book coupons to encourage students to keep reading over the summer.

The student can come into the FriendShop in Rio Rancho or the FriendShop Too! on the second floor of the Martha Liebert Public Library in Bernalillo to pick any book they want to read and get it free.

Sun reading a book

In Rio Rancho, the Friends are working with the Public Schools and the City Parks and Recreation Department to hand out coupons as part of the free summer lunch program.

The Martha Liebert Public Library is having a “read 15 minutes a day” challenge this summer. Participants receive a one-free-book coupon at the start and one at the end of the challenge.

Juneteenth Celebration

June 20 was the newest Federal holiday marking the legal end of slavery after the Civil War. The Friends sponsored three-time Correta Scott King Award winning author Vaunda Micheaux Nelson who talked about the history of the holiday and read from her book Juneteenth. Afterward, everyone celebrated with red velvet cake and red soda pop.

Photo courtesy of Mike Jackovich

Library Aide Scholarships

Friends of Libraries and Literacy presented scholarships to five Rio Rancho high-school seniors at the FriendShop bookstore. The award ceremony was followed by a reception for the students and their families and friends.

The FOLRR Scholarships provide a monetary award to high-school seniors who have been outstanding volunteers or student aides in their school’s library. The scholarships may be used for any type of continuing education or training, including military service, apprenticeships, college and internships. The recipients were selected by their school’s librarian.

From right to left, Angie Adams, FOLRR grant coordinator; Jane Petre, RRHS librarian; RRHS scholarship recipients Logan Jardine and Calie Franco; CHS scholarship recipients Chase Stimmel, Kaiela Atoigue and Julian Bachicha; Deena White and Patricia Thieme, CHS librarians; Lorraine Garvey and Joe Driear, FOLRR incoming and outgoing presidents. Photo courtesy of Anne Goodman.

Community Reading Shakespeare Group

The Friends sponsored Dr. Robin Williams, founder of the International Shakespeare Institute, to kick off the first free-to-the-public group that is slow reading Shakespeare. The first play the group is reading is King Lear.

A standing-room-only crowd greeted Dr. Williams at the initial meeting of the Reading Group. Subsequent meetings of the group will be Tuesdays at 1 PM. Call the Martha Liebert Public Library at 505-867-1440 to register and get a free iRead Shakespeare edition of the play.

Quilts and Books – Better Together!

Working with Thimbleweeds Quilters, who have generously donated quilts to be raffled at the FriendShop, there was a Friends’ table at the Fiber-arts Fiesta under the pavilion at Haynes Park in Rio Rancho.

The table showed how the two groups work together to support childhood literacy in Rio Rancho. A poster highlighted the quilt raffles and bookmarks, with information about the Friends, were available.

FriendShop Too! Grand Opening

High Desert Pipes and Drums at the Martha Liebert Public Library in Bernalillo

Sponsored by the Friends, the High Desert Pipes and Drums gave a rousing performance of traditional Scottish tunes. The only American group to win a first prize at a Scottish competition, the members also answered questions about playing the bagpipes and the history of bagpipes in Scotland.

After the performance, the audience was invited to the grand opening of the FriendShop Too! bookstore which is just down the hall from the performance rooms on the second floor of the Martha Liebert Public Library in Bernalillo.

The FriendShop Too! has carefully selected books donated by the community

The FriendShop Too! has paperback and hardback fiction for adults, teens and children. There is also a non-fiction section with history, cookbooks, home & garden, biography and more. Most adult and teen books are $2 or $3 and children’s books start at 50¢. It is on the second floor of the Martha Liebert Public Library. Purchases are cash only.

Coronado Expedition Talk

Richard and Shirley Flint talked about their new book A Most Splendid Company in a free-to-the-public presentation on the Coronado Expedition. The talk at the Martha Liebert Public Library was sponsored by the Friends.

The expedition was enormous with hundreds of Spaniards and thousands of local people. Among many surprising revelations, the Flints discovered in Spanish archives that the goal of the expedition was not to find the legendary ‘City of Gold’ but instead to find a trade route to ‘nearby’ China!

2022 Quilt Raffle Winner

For the second year in a row, the Thimbleweeds Quilters of Rio Rancho donated a hand-made quilt to the Friends to raffle. When it was hung in the Friend Shop, the quilt gathered 189 raffle entries. All proceeds from the raffle will be used to support childhood literacy in Rio Rancho.

Raffle winner Micheline holds the quilt she won.
Micheline, a regular FriendShop customer, was the lucky raffle winner in a random drawing from 189 entries

Winter Wonderland at Colinas del Norte School

Earlier in 2021, the Thimbleweeds Quilt Group of Rio Rancho donated a quilt that was raffled at the FriendShop and drew 204 entries. The money from the raffle, along with matching funds from the Friends, allowed the Colinas del Norte Elementary School in Rio Rancho to purchase and give a new book to each child at the Winter Wonderland celebration.

In addition to the new book, each family received a coupon for a free children’s book of their choosing at the FriendShop. An estimated 300 children attended.

Photos courtesy of Angie Adams. “Do the Snowflake Shake” says Frosty!

Holiday Party with Harpist Julianne Rivera

As part of the holiday celebration at the Martha Liebert Public Library in Bernalillo, harpist Julianne Rivera performed seasonal music for all ages, talked about playing the harp and answered questions from the audience.

The Friends sponsored the performance so it could be free to the public.

Photo courtesy of Danielle Threadgill, MLPL

Books for Abrazos

Abrazos Family Support Services provides services to children from new-born to 3 years old who have a developmental disability/delay or are at-risk of either. Abrazos therapists use books to help children improve their speaking skills, listening skills, and develop a foundation for literacy..

Abrazos was recently approved to provide ABA Therapy to children diagnosed with autism-spectrum disorder. Enterprise Holding Company and the Friends worked together to fund the purchase of over 200 books to be used for their Autism Therapy and Early Intervention Therapy Programs.

Youngsters using new books to learn.
Youngsters enjoying new books. Photos courtesy of Amy Berman, Abrazos Development Director.

Classical Guitar Concert

The concert by virtuoso classical guitarist Omar Villanueva at the Martha Liebert Public Library in Bernalillo brought many people into the library in mid November.

Villanueva, New Mexico’s unsurpassed master of the classical guitar, performed masterworks from the Baroque Period and onward.

The Friends sponsored the performance so it could be free to the public.

Photo courtesy of Danielle Threadgill, MLPL

First Annual Famous Author Talk

The Friends sponsored Vaunda Micheaux Nelson’s talk on Literacy and Freedom at the Martha Libert Public Library in Bernalillo.

Vaunda spoke about the importance of bookstores in a community and how they make literacy relevant to their community. A book signing and refreshments were available after her talk.

Vaunda Nelson Signed Books after Her Talk

Books for Summer Reading

Shining Stars School had a summer-reading program for 3 and 4 year olds. Each week the children studied a different author. At the end of each week, each took home a free book by that author. The take-home books were purchased with funds from the Friends of Libraries and Literacy and were a big hit.

Children reading their free take-home books purchased by the Friends.
Students and parents were so excited, they sat down on the benches at the school and started reading.
Photos courtesy of Kim Johns, Principal

Little Free Libraries

Friends’ volunteers continue to support Little Free Libraries. We’re now up to six: one at A Park Above, four at Shining Stars School, and one at ReadWest. They are refilled once or twice a week through out the year with free books and magazines that have been donated to the Friends.

Young boy looking at books in Little Free Library.
Free books and magazines for children and adults at the Little Free Library.

2021 Quilt Raffle Winner

The winning ticket for the quilt donated by the Thimbleweeds Quilt Group of Rio Rancho was pulled in a random drawing from 204 entries. Nona Lane, a long-time volunteer who works on alternate Saturdays at the FriendShop bookstore, had the winning ticket. A total of $346 was collected and will be used to support childhood literacy in Rio Rancho.

Raffle quilt winner Nona Lane
Nona Lane, winner of the raffle quilt donated by Thimbleweeds Quilt Group of Rio Rancho

FriendShop Location

Located on the north side of the Target/Albertsons center off NM 528 (Pat d’Arco Highway), the FriendShop is at 4300 Ridgecrest Drive #J/K, Rio Rancho NM.

Contact Us

We welcome your inquiries!

  • Phone: 505-892-READ (7323).
  • Mail: Friends of Libraries and Literacy, Rio Rancho, Inc. / P.O. Box 15143 / Rio Rancho, NM 87174.
  • Email: Send email to info at-sign folrr dot org Please include your name and, if you would like a call back, a phone number