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Library Stories: Books on the Backroads cover image

Library Stories: Books on the Backroads 2023


Distributed by New Deal Films, PO Box 2953 Corrales NM 87048
Produced by Mary Lance and Ben Daitz
Directed by Mary Lance and Ben Daitz
Streaming, 56 mins

Middle School - General Adult
Communication; Library Sciences; Multiculturalism

Date Entered: 05/08/2024

Reviewed by Kimberly Poppiti, St. Joseph's University, Patchogue, NY

Library Stories: Books on the Backroads is an uplifting and informative film about the rural libraries of New Mexico. In it, the filmmakers document the experiences of staff and patrons at, as well as the services provided by, numerous libraries to illustrate their importance within and centrality to the communities that they serve. This inspiring and easy to watch film provides a roughly hour-long overview of the significant worth of rural libraries.

Throughout the film, library staff from various rural New Mexico libraries discuss their libraries, focusing on the specifics of the work they do, while also identifying the unique challenges and benefits of their small sizes and remote locations. Dedicated staff members are shown working for low wages while also providing additional services such as driving books out to home-bound residents and opening early or staying late to accommodate visitors outside of normal business hours. Library programming and offerings are described, with footage shown from a wide variety of library-based events and programs. Library staff, patrons, and community leaders from various areas of New Mexico describe their first-hand experiences with rural libraries.

Viewers learn that there are “approximately four thousand rural library systems” in the United States and can gain an understanding of how these libraries serve their communities in ways that are in some ways unique and distinct from the functions of more urban and suburban libraries. Examples of services offered by rural libraries and described in the film include not only loaning out books and other materials, or hosting community events, but also providing residents with a shared space and access to more basic amenities, in some cases providing patrons with their only means of accessing not only reading material, but also the internet, telephones, and even electricity.

Library Stories contains is appropriate for all ages. It is an engaging and informative film that is likely to be of greatest interest to those in the fields of Library Sciences, Communication, and Multiculturalism, and to viewers at the middle school level and up.

Published and licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license. Anyone can use these reviews, so long as they comply with the terms of the license.