The neighborhood public library occupies a warm spot in the memories of my childhood.
The library was a friendly, welcoming place, as well as a seemingly limitless source of information and entertainment. From a modern perspective, I see it as a kind of proto-Google from the days when digital referred to fingers—needed, of course, to turn pages of paper.
When I moved to Mexico, I found that lending libraries open to the public were few and far between. Sometimes I would find one in the Casa de Cultura of some pueblito, but most often their entire collection of books would occupy only a couple of shelves. A friend of mine belonging to the U.S. Peace Corps noticed the same thing but—unlike me—she decided to do something about it.
Volunteer Barbara Dye found resources to buy children’s books and started her own traveling library to take reading material to kids living in remote corners of Jalisco’s Primavera Forest, where she worked.
One day I tagged along in her truck-turned-bookmobile and I was greatly moved by the joy and enthusiasm of those children as Barbara brought them new boxes of books from which they could choose the ones they would like to borrow. What impressed me most was what the kids were doing with those books.