La Biblioteca’s Social Enterprises
By Jaci Winters
Normally a library is a place for books, computer access, DVD’s and CD’s which you use at the library or borrow. The Biblioteca provides the same services, but in order to staff and operate the library as well as provide education classes and scholarships for Mexican youth without government funding, it must operate several social enterprises.
One of the sources of income for the Biblioteca is the wonderful bilingual newspaper Atención, which is published every week. This newspaper provides news in English and Spanish about the community of San Miguel de Allende and is a valuable guide to living in San Miguel that is read by both residents and visitors. Copies of Que Pasa, with its calendar of cultural and artistic events, are used to promote tourism in the city and are widely distributed through hotels and tourism offices. Atención is also available online, so people can access it even outside of Mexico and stay in touch with local happenings. Atención employs 10 staff members and has numerous volunteers who write articles and proofread the newspaper. Currently around 2,400 copies of Atención are published and distributed every week at the very reasonable price of 15 pesos a copy.
Café Santa Ana is staffed and operated by the Biblioteca. You will notice that some refurbishing has occurred, including a colorful mural, new chair cushions, and a bigger kitchen. There is a new daily menu to ensure that the café caters to customers’ taste buds at a good price. New tasty treats like morning glory muffins, brownies and other desserts are available for nibbling with your cappuccino. The café also offers regular breakfast and lunch favorites. Our staff is very friendly and provides good service to the many people who come for meals or an afternoon drink. The café is a space where local artists exhibit and small receptions are held after theater productions or lectures. It employs six people and makes a profit for the Biblioteca. The café served 17,077 customers in 2015.
La Tienda is a retail store operated by the Biblioteca near the entrance to the library, employing one staff member. The store occupies a beautifully decorated room with a ceiling mural by David Leonardo. Books are one of the main products, including books from the Writers Conference and books by local writers that are generally carried on consignment. Small gift items, like cards, craft items, paintings, and jewelry, are also featured, with some on consignment to reduce investment in inventory. In 2015, 3,207 people visited the store. The store is also where Ticket Centro is located, a one-stop shop for purchasing tickets to various events in San Miguel. House & Garden Tour tickets plus bookings for special tours can be arranged at the store.
These are three of the enterprises that provide funds to keep the Biblioteca doors open and support library services and community programs, Next week we will feature Santa Ana Theater, House & Garden Tours, and Bodega de Sorpresas. These enterprises also contribute to the Biblioteca bottom line.