UNM Libraries is celebrating the milestone of three million volumes in its collection  with the unveiling of a book with a special place in state history. The official three millionth volume, “The Authentic Life of Billy, the Kid, the Noted Desperado of the Southwest, Whose Deeds of Daring and Blood Made his Name a Terror in New Mexico, Arizona and Northern Mexico,” has been donated by the William A. Keleher Family. 

Written by Pat Garrett, sheriff of Lincoln County and published in 1882, the book is extremely rare and was signed by the author. It will become part of the Center for Southwest Research and Special Collections at University Libraries. 

In this C-Span interview Mike Kelly, associate dean for Scholarly Resources, Special Collections, the Center for Southwest Research and Special Collections talks about what makes this book a special addition to the collection.

“This volume not only represents the essence of southwestern historical literature, but it is a tangible piece of our very culture, and the library is honored to have been chosen as its home,” Dean of University Libraries Martha Bedard said. “As libraries across the country expand their capacity to collect, share and preserve intellectual output in creative ways, I believe that libraries are more essential than ever, not only to the future of society, but also to its history.” 

Watch what Bedard has to say about the future of University Libraries collections.


UNM began collecting books in 1892 when the library consisted of one room in the only building on campus, Hodgin Hall. The collection has grown through the years and is now spread throughout four libraries on the main campus, staffed by 44 professional librarians, 75 support staff and 40 student workers.University Libraries has also chosen to recognize this special landmark by producing a commemorative volume of essays, “Three Million and Counting: The Authentic Story of a Rare Book, Library Donors, Famous Authors, University Faculty, Staff and Students, and How They Built a Research Library Collection at the University of New Mexico.” 

The volume was edited by Steven R. Harris, director of collections and acquisitions services at University Libraries. The commemorative volume features essays by noted New Mexico authors.  University Libraries is always searching for documents and collections that have a southwestern foundation.