Creating Brighter Futures With Books
Did you know that Rosarito has ZERO book stores? And that the five branch libraries are accessible to only a small portion of the population of over 125,000?
That’s why, year round, Friends of the Library (FOL) is working on all the different ways we can place books in the hands of children and families in our community. Our Mission is to promote reading for enrichment, learning and enjoyment and to demonstrate to children and families how reading helps improve life for all in the community.
FOL’s history started in 2006, when three expats found critical problems in Rosarito’s five branch libraries—no electricity, leaky roofs, no running water. They took up a collection and got started with donated goods and labor. Soon all of the libraries had electricity, bathrooms and access to the Internet. FOL moved on to focus on the branches’ book collections. Shelves appeared full, but were filled with outdated encyclopedias, many titles of little interest to local readers, and books in deteriorating condition. Our “Full Shelves, Happy Hearts” campaign raised thousands of dollars and with discounts of 10-50% from from Tijuana bookstore Libreria el Día and several US publishers, we began filling librarian wish lists.
The true challenge though, was to inspire local children and families to want to read, to experience the joys of reading, and then to actually make it a part of their daily lives. We began by running Saturday and summer reading programs in the five branches, completely volunteer-based and always focused on a theme of interest—like dinosaurs—to draw children in.
After a 2013 UNESCO study ranked Mexico second-to-last in the practice of reading among 108 countries, FOL refocused its purpose and mission, to go beyond simple support of library branches. We adopted the tag line “Read today…. for a quality life tomorrow.” And we needed to reach beyond just the five branch libraries which only a small portion of Rosarito residents can access. To reach children who could not come to us, we needed to go where the children are—in the schools. In cooperation with the school system, we created a city-wide reading program called Rosarito Reads. We lent thousands of books and ran year-round reading programs in the classrooms.
Fast forward to 2018/2019 when two things happened. First, the “reading gods” shone on us and brought us Marcela Felix, a trained professional reading promoter (who knew that such a profession even existed?). With Marce, our programs now have an increased richness, depth and effectiveness. She focused on developing a “professional” team, albeit mostly volunteer, by training local college and high school students, parents, and community leaders to become reading promoters in their own right and achieve self-sustaining reading communities. With Marce, we started pop-up libraries, setting up in parks and public each week, sharing books, doing storytelling and other reading-related games. Second, our dream of having a Bookmobile was realized. Now we truly had a way to reach the legions of residents who live too far from a branch library.
Confronted with the COVID-19 epidemic in 2020, our talented team, now expanded to include our own trained bookmobile librarian, pivoted to create programs tailored to face COVID restrictions. With Somos lectores… a distancia (“We are readers…. at a distance”), we built virtual reading communities on Facebook and and created our own virtual reading room, with virtual book clubs and storytelling. Lecturas para llevar (Reading to Go) meant our bookmobile could stay in service, with special safety protocols, despite users being unable to actually board the vehicle or touch and browse through books. Mochilla viajero (Traveling backpack) put backpacks filled with books and reading games into the hands of a family for two weeks, then returned to us for cleaning and replenishing to move on to another.
These are just some of the ways we operate, and our team is always looking for more and better ways to achieve our mission.
• We believe that a person who reads will have a brighter future with more opportunities.
• We believe that a person who reads will be a lifelong learner.
• We believe that children will be more enthusiastic readers if the adults in their lives model a love of reading.
You can help! At our website, friendsofthelibrary.com.mx, you can click and Donate, become a member, find ways to volunteer your time, whether you are English-speaking, Spanish-speaking, or bilingual. You can also find us on Facebook (FOL Friends of the Library Rosarito Beach, BC), Instagram (rosaritofriendsofthelibrary) and TikTok (atrevetealeer).