The San Juan Community Library is a rarity in Puerto Rico. The island lacks a culture of public and community libraries, as most are specialized catering to the needs of members of parent institutions such as universities.
Of the existing libraries that serve the general public, few allow users to borrow books. The importance of the San Juan Community Library is underscored by the almost complete lack of public discourse from the government on the subject of cultural policies, and even less about how lending libraries could form the cornerstone of a solid strategy for cultural development within the country.
The San Juan Community Library is a local institution that started out with two folding tables and a couple of chairs. It gradually grew into a full-fledged library with more than 26,000 books on a variety of topics, offering services such as free Internet access (including Wi-Fi), programs for young children, teenagers and adults, and borrowing privileges for both print and e-books. The library maintains close ties to its users through its Facebook page, and a good deal of its offering depends on private donations and volunteers. At a time when there is economic hardship in Puerto Rico, a place that can provide these kinds of resources to the public is without a doubt of vital importance.
That is why many were saddened to discover, ironically in the middle of Library week [es], that this community library would be closed until further notice because it lacked sufficient funds to repair its roof. The situation is dire, as the whole roof has to be removed, and any rainfall could damage both the collection of books and the electronic equipment.
The library is exploring possible sources of financial assistance in order to meet immediate needs and protect its collection. Meanwhile, donations are being accepted through its website here.