On April 19th, 2006 the Presto community library was officially inaugurated as “BIBLIOTECA 14 DE ENERO”.
The name recognizes the town’s anniversary, the name of their main plaza, and the name of their high school. The event took place in the afternoon, beginning at 3:00 pm with the Bolivia national anthem and the participation of over 300 students, community members, and invited guests.
The Presto library is a special library for us because it was the motivating reason behind Biblio.com founding the BiblioWorks Foundation. When Brendan, President of Biblio, first came to Bolivia in 2005 to inaugurate the library in Morado K’asa, we took a trip to Presto to see about a library there. Brendan immediately said yes. The foundation was started in August of 2005, at the same time that I took on the position of Latin America Project Coordinator and moved back down to Sucre, Bolivia, after my Peace Corps service to continue the work of building libraries in much-needed areas of rural Bolivia. For that reason, Presto is special – kind of the whole reason it all got started.
On this day, that was shown. The event started with welcoming words from the local priest, Rolando Padilla, as he expressed his enthusiasm at being able to collaborate such a project with us, by offering us the space next to his church to install the library. Similar words of gratitude were offered by the School District Director, Victor Espada, the Mayor of Presto, Jose Romero, and Victor Menchaca – Director of CESATCH. Words of thanks were also directed towards the community and community leaders by Brendan Sherar – VicePresident of BiblioWorks visiting from the States, and Megan Sherar – Latin America Project Coordinator – thanking them for the opportunity to make this library a possibility and expressing our dreams that this library will open up doors and opportunities to the many children and adolescents of the community.
As part of the event, a group of young high school students danced the traditional
dance of “Pujllay”, whirling around in circles in colorful, multi-layered outfits while playing the “sampoña” flutes and stomping their feet in wooden and spurred platform shoes. Young kids from the elementary school also paired off and showed their skills at dancing another traditional dance in formations as couples. The last number was a comedy skit performed in Quechua, the local indigenous language, which captured the people in contagious laughter.
After the ribbon was cut and the library officially opened, the space was immediately packed. Some children took to the shelves, browsing subjects and asking teachers’ permission to pull books down. Others wandered around the wall-spaces, intently studying the maps and educational charts displayed conveniently at their eye-level on the walls. Then there was the group of kids who raced to the computers, hoping to have their chance to play, explore, and enjoy.
This library has been equipped with about 500 books, some received as donations through the 20-foot container sent down by BiblioWorks from the U.S., and the other part of national literature and history having been purchased in Bolivia. Also in the container, this library received 6 tables and 36 chairs from one of BiblioWorks’s partners, Brodart and 10 computers that were also sent down as donations. The computer desks were donated by the Mayor’s Office. The shelves were constructed in the community. The library is also equipped with a TV and DVD player, along with a collection of 87 educational CD’s and DVD’s purchased from Foundation Teso of Santa Cruz.
To date, this library has been one of our largest endeavors. It has been a collaboration of many. But it does not end there. We hope to continue to bring more books and educational resources to this community and to the more than 800 students in the area. They deserve the opportunity to have doors and worlds open to them.