The grand opening of the new children’s library, Biblioteca Casa de Los Sueños, in San Juan Cosala was held on Monday, July 30.
The library is a dream come true for the children of this small village and also for founder Ken Lienemann, who leased the building and financed the remodeling, including water, sewer and electrical upgrades.
Lienemann has also donated hundreds of books, the majority of which are in Spanish. The shelves contain books suitable for beginning readers and picture books for the younger children. For children ages 6-12, in addition to fiction and some of the classics, there are books about science, biology, animals, weather, oceans, chemistry and the arts. A small collection of children’s books in English is also on hand.
The new library contains a “reading friendly” area where children can sit on bean bag chairs, carpet or stools to read, play games and use the magnetic white board with numbers and letters.
A special chair, designated as the “Storyteller’s Chair,” will be the focus of story hour once a week. This chair belonged to the abuela (grandmother) of the house and has a plaque with her name on it to ensure her spirit remains in the new library.
Local teachers are asking if they can use the facility as a resource center to hold classes. More than 150 children have already visited the library, in groups of 25. Many of them immediately grabbed books off the shelves and plopped down on the floor. One little girl was spotted reading a book on human anatomy – every time you turn a page it peels back another layer: skin, muscles, nerves, circulation, organs, bones. Was this the start of a future science career?
Others browsed biographies, while one girl read a book about ballet. A few kids grabbed the magnetic numbers and were doing math on the magnetic white board.
The head librarians are Blanca Vasquez and Lupe Flores Cornejo. They are assisted by a cadre of local women who have been trained to be volunteers and who know how to work with children and encourage them to think and ask questions.
When he decided to begin this project, Lienemann’s priority was to make it a village library, which the people will take ownership of, take pride in and use.
“I’m doing it because I want every child in this village to have access to books, to experience the joy of reading,” he says. “To learn to read, to do better in school, to have dreams that are bigger than the village. That is our value.”