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Volunteers Create a Remarkable Legacy

By Jaci Winters

I wonder what the original volunteer founders would think if they could see today’s La Biblioteca. Did they ever imagine that their vision would become the educational and cultural heart of San Miguel?

La Biblioteca has developed from its roots as a room in Canadian Helen Wale’s house into the lovely historic building that is its home today. The transformation took many years and was accomplished through the hard work of volunteers who drove its evolution and raised the funds to renovate the building the library inhabits today.

From a concept that sought to introduce books to children and increase literacy, La Biblioteca is now the second largest bilingual library in Mexico with a collection of over 60,000 English and Spanish books. In addition, La Biblioteca provides free enrichment classes for young Mexicans in music, language, mathematics, computer, and art as well as scholarships for both high school and university students. Lectures, movies, concerts, and plays round out the cultural offerings for both San Miguel residents and tourists that are presented in the Santa Ana Theater and Sala Quetzal.

In 2016, there were 71,515 visitors to La Biblioteca. Many of these people accessed some of the 84,191 books in the library’s general collection, while 33,099 books were enjoyed or read by children in the Sala Infantil. Total library membership numbered 2,113 in 2016, and members borrowed 24,402 books during this period.

Many young people came to La Biblioteca to attend the 55 lectures and courses offered throughout the year. These lectures and courses are free and enhanced the knowledge of 1,648 children, 196 young people and 48 adults in 2016. In addition, 452 students were introduced to the library and its educational programs through 17-guided tours. Computer courses were very popular with 384 adults and children attending 71 courses.  A further 1,850 of them utilized the library computers.

It is obvious from the statistics: La Biblioteca is a highly used and favorite place for residents and visitors alike. The courtyard rings with the voices of children who come for after-school programs and Mexican parents see La Biblioteca not only as a place of learning but as a safe place for their children. La Biblioteca deserves the support of all who use or visit.  It is not a government-funded library. Its many volunteers and donors continue to support and ensure the future of La Biblioteca by bringing their skills and enthusiasm to build on the legacy of its original volunteers.

Please join La Biblioteca’s volunteers and donors to ensure the legacy. A tax receipt is available for Mexican and US gifts in the library La Biblioteca or online at Canadian gifts can be made through Amistad Canada or A donor brochure is available with all the details in the courtyard café or Tesoros.


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