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La Biblioteca Keeps Moving Forward


By Alexis White

Long past San Miguel de Allende’s busiest tourist season, when hundreds of visitors take advantage of the historical as well as cultural merits of San Miguel’s venerable institutions, the Biblioteca Pública continues to hum along, thanks to the bicultural enthusiasm of its patrons—young, old, and in between.

A living, evolving institution, the Biblioteca continues moving forward toward fulfilling its mission to provide, maintain, and encourage educational and cultural activities benefiting our community. Its strong belief that education is a solution to economic and social problems underpins this goal as it expands, often beyond its thick walls, to bring greater benefits to Sanmiguelenses.

Did you know that the Biblioteca has a virtual education program through the Virtual University of the State of Guanajuato and that it anticipates expanding as Internet access comes to more municipality communities? There’s an English language program for the scholarship students, created in conjunction with Mujeres en Cambio; a science program developed with the help of the San Miguel local government; and a summer program for local and visiting students on vacation. Additionally, the Biblioteca offers assistance to rural libraries and has several programs tied into some of San Miguel’s local schools.

The biggest component of the Biblioteca’s outreach is its scholarship program, which this year is benefitting 113 students enrolled in institutions of higher learning. Over many years, these scholarships have enabled San Miguel’s young people to complete their studies, pursue careers, and become active and contributing members of our community.

Part of the energy one feels upon entering the Biblioteca courtyard derives from the 540 students who attend 16 different classes and workshops on a weekly basis. Courses include computer science, mathematics, science, language, reading, and art—the latter resulting in two and three-dimensional murals and a painted violin showcase near Café Santa Ana’s entrance.

The Biblioteca’s after-school programs and resources (from textbooks to quiet study areas) have become an important asset for working parents who want their children to have a safe environment offering meaningful opportunities for engagement. The positive effects, on many levels, of after-school programs have been well documented in the United States and Canada.

One of the most used public spaces in San Miguel, the Biblioteca is a hub for cultural events, lectures, touring programs, adult language learning, and more. It annually serves more than 300,000 residents and visitors from all over Mexico and the world. The current administration has stated that through the judicious handling of its obligations, coupled with a hardworking and enthusiastic staff and core of volunteers, it has reached a level of financial stability and operational cohesion never before achieved. That, too, is part of the buzz.

If you do not have a Biblioteca membership card, which costs 120 to 500 pesos yearly depending on the number of books one wishes to check out, it is worthwhile doing even if you never check out a book. You will be lending your support to this venerable institution and will be able to vote in the June 4 Board of Directors election.


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