Name: Molly Molloy
Location: Las Cruces, New Mexico
Topics: Education, Librarian, Immigration, Border, Youth
Quote: “I’m the person that people come to when they need information about the U.S.-Mexico border and immigration topics.”
My name is Molly Molloy and I’m originally from Louisiana, in the southeastern part of the U.S. I am currently a research librarian here, at New Mexico State University. My specialty is more in Latin American Studies. So, I’m kind of the person that people come to when they need information about the U.S.-Mexico border, immigration topics, all of those kind of things that, you know, have to do with where we are, where we live, this place here close to the border. So, that’s kind of what I do on the job. I do a lot of other things on the job. I teach classes. I help people learn how to use the library. I answer research questions that come from email, and phone, and the reference desk. All of us inn this department do that kind of thing. I really like being a librarian because it is a way to really be curious all the time. If you’re interested in questions; if you’re interested in how things are going in the world; one of the things librarians do is we know how to find out, we know how to find information, even if someone asks a question about something that I don’t know anything about, the hope is that I’ll be able to find the information they need by using the stuff I have learned to do as a librarian.
I grew up in Louisiana. It’s an area that, geographically, it couldn’t be more different than New Mexico ’cause it’s wet, and its flat, and its green all of the time, even in the winter. We have really tall trees everywhere, and water everywhere: rivers, streams, bayous. So, it’s so different, and yet, in many ways it’s also similar in that south Louisiana, where I’m from, is a real French-Catholic culture, which is quite similar to the Spanish-Mexican-Catholic culture in New Mexico. We have a lot of the same kinds of folk cultures. I mean, they’re different. They’re completely different than New Mexican or Native American cultures here, but the similarity is that they’re very different from the mainstream culture. So, in south Louisiana there’s a lot of people who grew up speaking French and cooking real special kind of French-Cajun food, which is really, really good. And they see themselves as somewhat different than the mainstream United States. So, that kind of feeling that you’re part of a different sort of place and a different sort of culture is the same kind of feeling in both Louisiana and New Mexico. And I think it’s probably one reason why I like New Mexico a lot; because it’s like a place where it’s good to be different. Something like that.
I came here after I went to graduate school in Library and Information Science. I went to graduate school at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, which is near where I grew up. My first job out of library school was at the University of Florida, on the other end of the United States. That was a really good job. It was a really good place. Gainesville, Florida is a pretty interesting town, but I really wanted to be somewhere close to the U.S.-Mexico border because my specialty academically has always been Latin American Studies. So, I would look at job ads and see if anything would come along that might be more like what I really wanted to do. And in 1992, a job was posted for New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, and it was for a Latin American specialist here in this library. And I thought, “Well, I’d like to live in New Mexico.” I had never really been anywhere in New Mexico, except driving through on the Interstate 10. You know, driving from Florida to Louisiana; and then I also lived for a short time in California. So, I knew the road but I had never really stayed anywhere or been anywhere in New Mexico for any length of time. So, I came out for a job interview and I really liked it and then, you know, as those things go sometimes, you get the job offer. So, I took it and I moved to New Mexico and, you know, that was 24 years ago and I’ve never wanted to leave. I really like being in Las Cruces.
I probably left; well I left my hometown when I went to college, also at Louisiana State University, ’cause where I grew up was a very tiny town of only about 1200 people. So, I lived in Baton Rouge, which is the capital city of Louisiana, and is where Louisiana State University is. I went there when I was eighteen; went to college. And when I graduated from college I lived for a while still in Louisiana and then I started moving around a lot. And lived in quite many different places in the U.S. and also in Central America after I went to college and some grad school in the 1980s. And so, basically I lived in my hometown for about a total of maybe 18 years, but I’ve already [lived] in Las Cruces for 24 years. And that’s definitely the place I’ve lived the longest.
I think anytime you stay in a place as long as I’ve stayed in Las Cruces it becomes home. The community of people here; I guess I have several communities really. I have my colleagues here at New Mexico State, mostly people I’ve met working here and sometimes we do things outside of work together. But, to be honest, working takes up a big chunk of your time and your life. And so, I do spend a lot of time with these folks just because we work together. And, you know, there’s some other people who have been here, you know, as long as I have, or almost as long. And, you know, we tend to be the closest friends, just ’cause we’ve known each other for so long. And I have friends outside the library, in other departments on campus who I’ve also known for pretty much almost as many years as I’ve been here. New Mexico State really is a community and you spend a lot of time with the people on campus and we get to know each other pretty well. But Las Cruces as a town, as a city, is also just a really interesting place to live and be. I guess many of my friends here are neighbors. I have, you know, close friends in my neighborhood, people that I don’t really go anywhere with, I guess. But they’re always there when I’m at home. I live kind of on the north side of Las Cruces, just passed the old the downtown area. And it’s a real nice neighborhood, with, you know, mostly small houses and families, and people living; you know and just being; I think we’re probably really ordinary Las Crucens, you know. Of [sic] all of the different types of people that live in Las Cruces also live on my street. So, it’s kind of nice that way. I also am real interested in certain causes and things. I guess in the community some of the things I’m most interested in are some environmental groups. Like, I usually go to the Southwest Environmental Center fundraising fiestas and parties that they have. I’m not really a party person, but that’s one of the community events that I like to go to. I sometimes also go to Audubon Society meetings, although I don’t like meetings at all. What I like about the Audubon Society is that they do birding field trips and I sometimes go with them, ’cause one of the things I love to do outside of work is to bird, to watch birds, and to learn all of the birds in our area.
I’ve been birding in quite a few places in the United States and in the world, actually. I’ve been to a couple of other countries where I can see completely different birds so that’s really kind of one of the things I like to do when I’m not working. And I just love it, I love taking pictures of birds and recognizing them, and seeing new ones, and learning what they are if I don’t know already. You always learn something new when you go out birding. Las Cruces is a real good place to do that because we have birds that live near the river, which are, you know, different kinds of birds than the birds that live up in the Organ Mountains or the birds that live up at the Bosque del Apache, up north. So, there’s [sic] lots of different regions you can go to, real close to here and see different birds. I’ve also been birding in the lower Rio Grande Valley in Texas, which is tropical and has completely different birds. I’ve been to southeastern Arizona, which is one of the most unusual places for birding in the United States. They have sixteen different species of hummingbirds, just hummingbirds that live in southeastern Arizona. And then I’ve also been to the Gulf Coast in Louisiana where there are different birds, again. So, those kinds of things are things I like to do outside of work. I’m also real involved in different groups and activities that have to do with the U.S.-Mexico border. So, I have some real good friends in Juárez that I visit and work with on some issues. I have some friends in El Paso that I see quite often. And usually in some way related to the social issues here in the border region: immigration, violence; the different kinds of things that make this place unique, some of them are good and some of them are troubling and bad. But they’re things that, as part of my interests in the border region are things that I try to know about.
The U.S.-Mexico border is the…it’s the border. It’s the place that basically both divides and joins the United States with the rest of our hemisphere, which is generally called Latin America. In terms of Latin America, I did some traveling when I was much younger, after I had finished college. I traveled for several months at a time in Mexico and then also in the Andean countries; in Ecuador, and Peru, and Bolivia, which, you know, was a really different introduction to very different regions of Latin America. And then in the 1980s, I went to Nicaragua to both learn about the progressive revolutionary government there, that began in 1979; and I also studied Spanish there. It was kind of a combination: learn Spanish; learn about Nicaragua. And, you know, be a tourist also, but it was a really interesting time. And I ended up; after I spent three or four weeks in the language school and in the official program that I went on, I had the opportunity to do some work there as a translator. Someone who worked for a bilingual publication in Nicaragua was looking for people who could translate and could also write well in English. And so, our job at this publication was to take the original Spanish-language stories that the reporters did and translate them into English. So it was really interesting, and I ended up doing that in Nicaragua for almost two years, during the time I lived there. It was really exciting.
And then there’s another thing I do in the community. I’m also a musician. I’m not a professional musician by any means, but I’m a, you know, pretty dedicated amateur. I play flute and piccolo. And so, I play in two music groups in Las Cruces. I play in the Mesilla Valley Concert Band, which is a group of about one hundred people, and we play both classical and popular music that’s written for big wind ensembles. That’s what a community band or concert band really is. I’ve been playing in that group since, gosh; about fifteen year now. I think I joined in 2000 or something like that. And then I also, in the last couple of years, have been playing with the New Horizons Symphony, which is a string orchestra. I play flute, but most orchestras several wind…you know, they have a wind section also. So, I play flute and piccolo that group also. And that way I get to play the orchestral literature, which is completely different from the concert band literature. So, I really enjoy doing both of those things. And those are completely different groups of people than most of the other people I hang out with so it makes it…it’s fun to have something to do in different parts of the community, and that’s kind of how I do things in Las Cruces.
Las Cruces is a really great place that way. And the music is especially; I just really love it. The interesting thing is, I was doing that ever since I’ve been here. My son grew up here also. He was about six when I moved here. He became a musician. He started singing in choir in middle school in Las Cruces, which is when they start in the public schools here. And he really got in to it. And he majored in Music Education here at New Mexico State. And now he’s a professional musician and music teacher. He lives in Sweden, he lives in another country. And so he’s the professional musician in the family. I’m just an amateur, like they say, but we both really love music. New Mexico State has a great music education program. So, he was really lucky to be able to study and become a professional.
I do send my son green chile to Sweden. He wants me to do it a lot more than I do because, for one thing, it’s very expensive to mail stuff to Europe and green chile is very heavy. And really the only kind I can mail; I mean, I guess if I wanted to spend lots of money I could mail him frozen chile, but I can’t imagine how much that costs, It costs a lot just to mail it just in the United States, in a frozen package overnight or something. But even to send a little box, like, you know, for Christmas presents. Let’s say a box that’s about a foot square or something like that; just to mail the box costs $75. And often I’ve spent $75 to mail a box that has, at the most, $10 worth of green chile in it. So, it’s not the best thing to mail over the Atlantic Ocean, but he demands that I do it.
New Mexico is one of the most beautiful places in the United States, and probably in the world. It’s certainly unique. I’ll tell a funny story. One time, a long time ago when I maybe had only been here two or three years, I was driving to Albuquerque with a colleague for a meeting. And it was early in the morning. And at the time we were just chit chatting in the car about budget cuts. Right? At the university and of course that’s in the news right now big time. But in some ways, in almost every year that I’ve been here there’s been some variation on budget cuts. It’s just part of the way New Mexico is. We’re one of the poorer states in the United States, so we just have to deal with these things. But it was so funny ’cause my friend and I were talking, just chit chatting, and complaining. You know, how you do sometimes. And then we both sort of looked out the window of the car at the sun coming up over the mountains that are just to the east of Elephant Butte. And, you know, the colors were just beautiful. I think it was in the fall, kind of like it is now. You know, my friend said “well, you know, I just think of it as the enchantment tax.” In other words, to live here in New Mexico you have to deal the fact that we are a poor state; that as people working as public employees, working for the University, you know we’re never gonna [sic] get paid the kind of money that people working for private companies and institutions get paid. But, there’s a lot of trade-offs that are really wonderful and one of them is being in New Mexico. Just being here is really special. And I’ve been here 24 years and that has never ever gone away from me. No matter how difficult things get. I just can’t think of a place I’d rather live.