A Gift to San Miguel
By Jaci Winters
Many of us come from countries where libraries are publicly funded. Our libraries are considered a necessary and vital part of our cultural and educational experience, both as children and adults. As children we are encouraged to read and borrow books from the school and public libraries. Our libraries are a font of information via reference texts and computers and new technologies like e-books and audio books.
So it may come as a surprise to many San Miguel visitors to know that La Biblioteca—which provides similar services to the community including lectures, films, free education classes in music, art, computers, science, math, and English, as well as scholarships for Mexican children—is not publicly funded. It is doubly surprising when you learn that La Biblioteca is the second largest bilingual library in Mexico after Mexico City, with over 60,000 books.
This great institution was the brainchild of Canadian Helen Wale who began by providing books to Mexican children in 1954. Along with many other expats from the US and Canada, she raised the funds to renovate the beautiful historic building you see and enjoy today. Dotty Vidargas, Mrs. Fernández and Mrs. Vertiz, local Mexican ladies, pushed a petition to then governor so La Biblioteca could have a place in the Insurgentes 25 building.
La Biblioteca raises most of its funds from its social enterprises, including La Tienda, Cafe Santa Ana, Teatro Santa Ana, Atención, House and Garden Tours, and the Bodega de Sorpresas (thrift store). La Biblioteca relies on paid staff plus many dedicated volunteers to operate the library and keep things running smoothly.
In 2015 La Biblioteca had more than 89,000 visits and many who accessed 138,198 books. In addition, 1,128 students from local schools took guided tours to learn about our free services and courses, and 3,356 patrons of all ages attended lectures. Free computer classes were provided to 466 young Mexicans, and 1,955 accessed the computers for general use. During the summer months 465 children participated in 42 creative workshops and many more took part in music and art classes during the school year.
La Biblioteca was the first NGO to offer scholarships to Mexican children (1960’s) to help them stay in school and complete their education. La Biblioteca has assisted hundreds of students. In 2015 it awarded 103 scholarships to students attending high school and university. In order to continue to offer all of its services to the community, and in particular Mexican youth, La Biblioteca needs your support.
You can help ensure the survival and future of this important and vital institution by making a donation in pesos or dollars. Pick up our donor brochure in the courtyard and choose how you want your donation to be used. Besides our sincere thanks, La Biblioteca will provide you with a Mexican or US tax receipt at La Biblioteca; Canadian tax receipts will be issued by AmistadCanada.org or Canadahelps.org.
Our donor recognition program tracks all donations cumulatively. When your donations reach US$1,000, a name tile will be installed on our Donor Wall to recognize your generosity. All gifts will be truly honored.