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The Jemez Springs Public Library first opened in April 1965. The 50th anniversary was celebrated with an author symposium and open house. The symposium featured two authors who had appeared in the noted series of author talks that began in 2001. They were N. Scott Momaday, who spoke at the first symposium and moderated the second, and Nasario Garcia, who spoke at the fifth symposium in 2005. Anne Hillerman was the third author. She has continued the popular mystery series written by her father, Tony Hillerman, who also spoke at the first symposium. Irene Wanner, local author and book reviewer, was moderator.

Library Celebrates 50 Years

Invitations to the 50th anniversary were in the form of an old-fashioned library book card.


The 50th anniversary author symposium was held in the Jemez Springs Presbyterian Church.




Following is the program for the 50th anniversary symposium.

Excerpts from a column by Jim Belshaw in the Albuquerque Journal, Oct. 10, 2005

I like the way that, three years ago, Morris had a grand idea about getting three literary Masters of the Universe together in Jemez Springs to talk about what they do. For free.
He thought it would be a good way to benefit the library.
The way I heard the story this past weekend, Morris offered up his idea and everyone said, ‘Sure, Morris. You go ahead and do that. Let us know when you get it lined up.’
So he did. . . .
Now I can have just a moment to talk about Morris Taylor, who is now 80, and who lives in Jemez Springs in the company of smart, thoughtful people who may spend their days in a small place but don’t entertain small ideas.
Three years ago, Morris wondered aloud if he could get N. Scott Momaday, Rudolfo Anaya and Tony Hillerman to come to the Jemez Springs [sic] High School on their own dime for the Jemez Springs Tricultural Symposium.
So he called them and asked. All three said they’d do it, and people came from all over the country to hear them.

Belshaw was one of the 2005 symposium speakers.

From Jemez Thunder, October 1, 2003

The authors’ symposia that have been offered to residents of the Jemez Valley by the Friends of the Library for the past three years are incredibly exciting. It is stimulating, mind-expanding, marvelous beyond words to listen to well-known authors discuss their work, their philosophy, and their ultimate goals.

Every year I come away thinking “How can something this exotic be offered – at no charge, even – in this small community? How do we persuade authors of the stature of John Nichols (The Milagro Beanfield War) or Demetria Martinez (who got into trouble with the U.S. Government back in the ‘80s for her political views) and Rina Swentzell, well-known writer, potter and weaver from Santa Clara Pueblo, to take the time and make the effort to visit our small spot on the planet?”

We may not always agree with their views, and we may not understand or appreciate everything they write, but we are so fortunate to have the opportunity to listen to lively dialogue and to interact through “question and answer” with noteworthy contemporary literary figures. Our very own N. Scott Momaday, who is a prize-winning novelist, poet, artist, literary critic and PBS commentator, is an excellent moderator. What a wonderful new auditorium the high school enjoys in which to display such talent also!

My awe at our good fortune expands to wonder why on Earth the high school teachers do not encourage their students to attend these august affairs with the logical inducement of extra credit. Indeed, how many teachers attend? (I spotted Rudolfo Anaya and his wife in the audience; but he, alas, doesn’t exactly count as a local educator).

The same lack of support from the school teachers, principals and committee members is true for the Jemez Valley Concert Association’s presentations. On Saturday evening Oct. 4, the Albuquerque Boy Choirs will be in concert at the Presbyterian Church. The cost is a minimal $5 for adults and $2.50 for children. What golden opportunities are offered to the public, and especially to our youth, to hear and watch a variety of excellent musicians of all sorts bring to our community something a little different from pop, rap, and rock and roll! There are at least four or five concerts every year, and so many people don’t bother to explore the possibilities, or encourage their youngsters to try something different and “educational.”

I write to urge everyone to at least give these cultural events a try just once. I can almost guarantee your first visit won’t be your last.


Barbara Curran

Area 1


Photo of Mandi Holder, Friends of the Library Treasurer.

Mardi Holder, Friends of the Library Treasurer, volunteered to help.

Photo of John Nichols.

John Nichols, one of three presenters.

Photo of Sara Wiuter, Friends of the Library President.

Sara Winter, Friends of the Library President hands out programs.

Photo of Rena Swentzeil and Carol Meine

Rena Swentzell, one of three presenters, and Carol Meine, Children and Youth Coordinator at the library.

Photo of Demetria Martinez.

Demetria Martinez, one of the three presenters.

Photo of Scott Momaday (Moderator), Rena Swentzeil, Demetria Martinez, and John Nichols.

N. Scott Momaday (Moderator), Rena Swentzeil, Demetria Martinez, and John Nichols.

Photo of Scott and Barbara Momaday.

N. Scott and Barbara Momaday waiting before the symposium.

 Transcribed from El Paso Times, September 15, 2002

Prominent New Mexican authors Denise Chávez, Micheal McGarrity and Simon Ortiz will be featured speakers at the second annual Tri-cultural Heritage Symposium in Jemez Springs, N.M.

The symposium will be from 3 to 5 p.m. Oct. 5 at the Jemez Valley High School. The Friends of the Jemez Springs Library sponsors the event. Jemez Springs author N. Scott Momaday will moderate. An authors’ book signing will follow the symposium. “It is the goal of the Friends of the Library to continue to attract distinguished authors, who may not have previously met together, to provide a truly unique literary experience,” event coordinator Morris Taylor said.

Chávez is a Las Cruces author and creative-writing teacher. She is the author of the critically acclaimed novels “The Last of the Menu Girls” and “Face of an Angel,” which won a National Book Award. Her latest work is “Loving Pedro Infante.”

McGarrity created the popular Kevin Kerney mystery series. He was a Santa Fe County deputy sheriff before turning to writing full time. His first Kerney book, “Tularosa,” was published in 1996. His most recent, “The Big Gamble,” was released in July.

Ortiz is a poet, fiction writer, essayist and storyteller. He is a native of New Mexico’s Acoma Pueblo. His earlier works include “From Sand Creek,” “After and Before the Lightning” and “Woven Stone.” His most recent book, “Out There Somewhere,” was published in March.

Momaday is a Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist, poet, artist, literary critic and PBS commentator. He was a featured speaker at the first Tricultural Heritage Symposium, along with Rudolfo Anaya and Tony Hillerman.

The symposium is free, but donations are accepted. Advance registration is not required.

Jemez Springs is about an hour’s drive northwest of Albuquerque on N.M. Highway 4.

Information: Kathleen Wiegner, (505) 829-3109 or


Letter to the Editor transcribed from Jemez Thunder, February 15, 2002

It is always satisfying to see an idea go from the abstract to the concrete and to see so many so satisfied as a result. Such is the case of the Authors Symposium recently held in the setting of the Jemez Valley featuring Tony Hillerman, Rudolfo Anaya and Scott Momaday. Many large cities would envy having these three eloquent, famous authors at the same time at the same place.

Morris Taylor, Sara Winter, Kathleen Wiegner, Judith Isaacs, the Friends of the Jemez Springs Library, and the Jemez Springs Library Board pulled off an event that defies description. Congratulations to all involved, especially all the volunteers who helped the All-America City Award Winner live up to its reputation.

David Sanchez, Jemez Springs