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Ali Zerriffi, New President of the Public Library

By Karla Ortiz

As the new president of the Board of Directors of the Public Library, Ali Zerriffi proposes a more creative and playful space for the children and young people of the city.

Ali has been president twice, vice president twice, and interim president once, and although he would have liked someone else to run as a candidate, he is happy to have the opportunity to work with the Library again, as he has dedicated a part of his life to the library, bringing great ideas, helping staff, and making contacts.

Once again, as president, he aims to deliver creative and innovative results with projects that enhance the library’s goal, as well as the good teamwork that has been formed among the board, staff, area chairpersons and volunteers. “For the first time, there is a good understanding,” Zerriffi said.

One of the proposals that he has as new president is to continue innovating in each organization such as the newspaper, the cafe, the theater, the Bodega de Sorpresas, and the House and Garden Tour. “We are at a point where we need to think creatively for classes and community service, and that is the exciting part, the creative side of leadership,” he said. “You can’t be a good leader if you maintain the same routine. The creative side is looking for ways to improve and do something new.”

Now, with the movements that are taking place at the Library due to changing from a trust to a concession, one of its great challenges has become the search for funds and financial support to continue with proposals such as the construction of more classrooms, the updating of services, the improved control of the Library’s book inventory. “The newspaper is at its best that I’ve seen in 17 or 18 years, but there are also a lot of things to do and things to update,” he said, adding that it is necessary to digitize the newspaper’s archival content in order to make old articles viewable on the Internet, as many people abroad or who can’t leave their homes want access to articles. He also commented on improving the delivery of scholarships for the education of children and young people. At the same time, the Teatro Santa Ana is a topic to be discussed, he said, since for years it has been a venue where artists and musicians meet, even more so these days due to the high growth of tourism in the area. The theater has been left behind, he says. Now is the time to look for new alliances and donors to have the best theater they can offer to the community.

For Zerriffi and the community, the Library is not just another building in the city. For San Miguel de Allende residents, the Library is an educational hub and is still alive thanks to the people who come and go, the people who spend hours reading in the courtyard, the people who get together to talk or do their homework. That is why it is important to maintain a presence, not for the benefit of the institution but because the city needs the space and services that have been offered for years, he says. The Library is for all those parents who prefer their children to be in painting, music, computer, or English workshops rather than being locked up in their homes watching TV or on the street.

The belief that inspires his conviction to help the Library progress is a belief that only through education can people’s quality of life be improved—be that as a human being, as a parent, as a son or daughter, or as a citizen. That thanks to education, there are more educated people, perhaps with better job opportunities. That education helps end the problems of crime, drugs, and migration, the great dilemmas of developing countries.

Finally, Zerriffi sends a message to the entire library community: “We have something very precious that we must take care of and support on an ongoing basis. The Library’s mission is to lend books to all students who do not have the money to buy textbooks; all classes are social support, not just personal support,” he said. “Fulfilling jobs come in many forms. In this case, working for a nonprofit institution that creates opportunities for the youth of San Miguel is a reason to be proud, to say ‘I work for the library,’ no matter in what area—in maintenance or on the Borrad. Any position is a point of pride. The whole community has to take care of this place because it is part of the history of San Miguel. Many generations have passed through here, this place that offers knowledge, support, and coexistence.”


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