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New information access initiatives in New Mexico

I’ve had a few comments and questions on the Digital Archive, and I’m going to get to them tomorrow on the last day of my guest month in another instalment on that topic. This will be a fairly quick and short post to let you know about a couple of legislative initiatives that, if successful, should greatly increase access to electronic resources in some of the rural areas of New Mexico. It was prompted by Dan’s comment to “share the good news” if the whole state was covered by broadband.

Well, we’re not there yet, but the Internet to the Hogans Initiative may be one way to get a lot of people there in the near future. State Senator Leonard Tsosie, a member of the Navajo Nation, introduced the bill in the 2006 session of the New Mexico Legislature to “ensure that no New Mexico hogan is left behind in the evolving digital world.” The bill would have provided money for Navajo chapter houses to plan for communication corridors, technology education in schools and colleges and other features. The bill died in committee, but there are plans to continue in the next session of the legislature.

Another initiative in 2006 was on the House side of the legislature. Representative Janice E. Arnold-Jones sponsored a bill to create the Rural Library Development Fund. It also died in committee, but Arnold-Jones, an Albuquerque businesswoman who is well versed in the IT and audio-visual production fields, plans to continue her efforts. While the bill focused on materials, equipment and furniture, some of the money could probably go toward improving broadband access.

It’s interesting to note, by the way, that interest in library and information technology access comes from both sides of the aisle — Tsosie is a Democrat; Arnold-Jones a Republican. In the coming months, NMSL will be participating in various ways in these initiatives and watching closely to see where they will go in the upcoming 2007 legislative session.

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