Saturday, July 23, 2011

A Library Tour: East Mountain Branch

Located midway along Tijeras Canyon, just adjacent to Exit 175 off of I-40, the East Mountain Library serves a wide area and diverse population. Customers come from not only the surrounding communities of Carnuel, Cedar Crest, Sandia Park, and Chilili, but also from as far away as Edgewood, Moriarty, Corona, and even Portales. Many of the branch's regular customers work in Albuquerque but live to the east, and stop at the East Mountain Library as part of their daily commute. Other customers live on ranches far out on the eastern plains and visit when they "come to town".

As the Village of Tijeras is rather small (population less than 600 in the village area), the East Mountain Library has a vital role as a community center and meeting place. (It is not unusual to see people who live 40 miles apart running into one another at the library.) The meeting room is often utilized for a wide range of purposes including lectures, cooking demonstrations, guitar lessons, movies, theatrical performances, and storytime. A variety of clubs and organizations use the meeting room, as do some of the area's many homeschoolers.

Other public buildings nearby in the "village center" are a Wells Fargo Bank, the U.S. Post Office next door, a recently-completed Senior Center, and the Los Vecinos Community Center which features a gymnasium, athletic fields, and a skateboarding park. The "Office Stop"across the street provides office supplies and services, helping to augment the Library's important provision of internet access for area residents.

Like all ABCLS Libraries, the East Mountain Library features free internet access (via 10 computer stations, two of those reserved for children) up to three hours a day with an active SmartCard, and free wi-fi throughout the building. Two study rooms are available that may be reserved in advance; the meeting room can hold up to 38 people and tables, chairs, a whiteboard, and projection screen are available.

Directly adjacent to the library is the Luis Garcia Park and Veteran's Monument, which incorporates a playground, central gazebo, and Vietnam Veteran's Monument. On the grounds of the Park is an old church now used for public events and historical displays; sharing a parking lot with the library is the Village of Tijeras Information Center/East Mountain Chamber of Commerce building.

The East Mountain Library, along old Route 66, is at the gateway to the mountains east of Albuquerque. A short distance south of the library is the Cibola National Forest & Visitor Center (often referred to locally as the "Sandia Ranger Station") with regional information about access to the trails and attractions of the Cibola National Forest, which includes both the Sandia and Manzanita mountains and the Sandia Crest National Scenic Byway. The Turquoise Trail National Scenic Byway, the "back road to Santa Fe", begins at the Library's door and heads north among some classic New Mexico scenery and through the towns of Cedar Crest, Sandia Park and the historic towns of Golden, Madrid, and Cerrillos. Madrid, a former coal mining town, has become an arts community and is a popular destination for area visitors. To the south are the Manzano Mountains, often a destination for daytrips from Albuquerque, especially Fourth of July Canyon with its brilliant Fall foliage.

Visitors should be aware that there is no gas station in Tijeras proper; stations are available further east along I-40 and in the town of Cedar Crest to the north. However, the village offers other amenities for visitors. The Tijeras Open-Air Arts Market, hosted by the Just Imagine Gallery directly across the road from the library, is open every weekend from May to mid-October, offering juried arts & crafts booths, food, drink, and live entertainment. The Gallery also has a coffee shop that is open year-round. A Subway sandwich shop is close at hand; further to the east is Trail Rider Pizza, "the best smelling trailer in the world", which offers salads, sandwiches, and pizza. Further to the north are the Cedar Point Grille, Pete's Mexican Restaurant, Ribs Hickory Pit BBQ, and Burger Boy. The Western Mercantile directly across from the library also has cold drinks in addition to a wide range of livestock feed and supplies.

Ongoing programs at the East Mountain Library include:
  • Celebrate Classic Literature, crafts and activities about classic children's literature. Past titles include The Wizard of Oz, Alice in Wonderland and Where the Wild Things Are; upcoming titles include The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe and The Jungle Book.
  • Kid Picks, a book club for kids, created by a young East Mountain customer to encourage young people to share and discuss the books they have been reading.
  • Stitch Along, exploring the world of embroidery.
  • Read to the Dogs -- young children read to trained therapy dogs. Read to Leuka every Wednesday, and the other dogs the second Saturday of every month.
  • Family Movie Matinee, on the 4th Thursday of every month. A classic family film, usually presented in conjunction with the "Celebrate Classic Literature" program.
  • Kids Write. Young writers 7-17 learn about the techniques professional writers use to create great stories.
  • Sandia Stitch 'n Time. A drop-in afternoon needlework group.

The library's recently reworked amphitheater is host to a wide variety of events including magic shows, musical performances, and visits from a variety of animal friends.

Winners of the Battle of the Bands, Focus'd , performing in the amphitheater.

Of course, being in the mountains means being closer to the snow! Any snowfall in the Albuquerque area usually means even more snow in Tijeras, so after a snowfall you might want to give the branch a call to be sure they've had time to dig out:

The East Mountain Branch is a true example of the "Albuquerque/Bernalillo County" Library System -- the building is a County facility, staffed with City of Albuquerque employees. The building won an Award of Merit in 1994 from the Albuquerque Conservation Association for "Contributing to the Urban Quality of Albuquerque", and a New Mexico Business Journal Best Buildings Award Honorable Mention in 1997 in the "Energy Conscious Design" category. The grounds were recently re-landscaped for better water efficiency.

While it may seem "out of town" for folks who haven't visited before, the East Mountain Library is actually just 7 minutes along I-40 from Tramway Blvd. It's closer than you think! And cooler up in the mountains -- worth the trip!

1 comment:

Susan said...

I recommend taking "the scenic route": instead of rushing on I-40 to East Mountain branch in 7 minutes, drive East on Central from Tramway for 15 minutes and enjoy the shift from "city" to "country".

Also, don't miss the fun "color of the week" book display.