Magazine article American Libraries

Library Rescues Important Village Documents

Magazine article American Libraries

Library Rescues Important Village Documents

Article excerpt

In August and early September, severe flooding took a toll on private and public property in many communities along the swollen Rio Grande, from west Texas to southern New Mexico. Among the hardest hit was the village of Hatch, New Mexico, the green chile capital of the world, population 1,672.

Disaster first reached Hatch on August 15, when intense thunderstorms and flash flooding sent several feet of water and mud into the village. As the rains continued over the next several weeks, businesses, offices, and more than 400 houses were significantly damaged. However, though both homes and possessions were lost, much of Hatch's public history was saved, thanks to the Archives and Special Collections Department at New Mexico State University Library in Las Cruces, located 40 miles downstream.

Department head Steve Hussman was telephoned during the flooding by Hatch village clerk Kathy McConnell, who was concerned about town documents dating back to the 1950s--original typescripts of village ordinances and resolutions stored in four bindings--now soaked in 3-4 feet of water.

Following Hussman's advice, McConnell's workers removed the documents from the water and placed them in the freezer of a local meat processor, Jim's SuperMarket. …

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