On July 23rd, the Villa Serrano community officially opened the doors to its first-ever public library.
During the previous months, the Villa Serrano Mayor’s office had been working hard to prepare the library space. BiblioWorks funds were used to repair an old hardwood floor, install two new windows and a bathroom, and paint both the interior and the exterior of the new library.
For the day of the big event, many local government officials were present to deliver words of honor and speeches. Peace Corps volunteer, Sarah Ellgen, arranged all the festivities for the day. The night before, furniture was arranged, balloons inflated, and sandwiches prepared for the more than 200 guests. But the most impressive part was the amount of students that participated in the event. Kids from the local elementary and high schools came with their teachers, ready to see the doors to their library open for the first time. They also participated in the event by performing their traditional “zapateo” dance, for which Villa Serrano is known. Villa Serrano is also famous for having the world’s largest “charango”, which is a very small guitar played in conjunction with the zapateo dance. The community also hosts a School of Fine Arts, where students take charango lessons.
After a round of speeches, the ribbon was cut and a bottle of champagne broken at the library entrance by Sarah. Then the kids poured into the library, anxiously pulling books from the shelves and taking seats at the tables. Teachers and parents walked around the large library space, admiring the posters, videos, and furniture, as champagne was handed out for a toast. The kids patiently awaited their soda and sandwiches. But they weren’t very patient for the balloons! Swarms of children jumped up and down trying to grab the balloons out of our hands!
The library has a total of about 500 books to begin, and is stocked with furniture sent to Bolivia from the US. The librarian, Evelyn, has already been trained by the Banco del Libro in La Paz and will be opening the library on a daily basis. The mayor’s office is already asking us for computers and we hope to be able to provide that to them this coming year.