Nicaragua’s First Lending Library

Just a few short years ago Nicaragua had only libraries that served to archive collections of books. You could read books at the library but only under the watchful eye of a guard. Being carefully watched by a guard would alter my reading selections and would likely prevent me from reading at all!

With the average wage of only a few dollars a day and no lending libraries, you can easily understand that books were as common among Nicaragua’s people as hen teeth. This is where today’s story begins. Every wonder if one person can make a difference? Looking for a good cause to support? Looking for a successful model you can use to help others? Keep reading Mi Amigo.

San Juan del Sur Biblioteca

San Juan del Sur Biblioteca


Jane Mirandette

Some ten years ago,  Jane Mirandette moved to San Juan del Sur and opened up the Hotel Villa Isabella. She placed a few books in the lobby for her guests to read.  Before long she noticed a little girl sitting in the lobby waiting for a bus, she was also reading one of Jane’s books.  After an hour or more of waiting for the bus, Jane correctly surmised the waiting was more for the read than the ride. The seed of an idea, the start of a movement was formed.

People told her a lending library would not work, Nicaraguan’s would not borrow a book and then return it. Let me tell you, this is one determined and dynamic lady who can see opportunity where others simply hear no-no-no.  Not being a librarian, she learned what it takes to run a library and then set out to start one.

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Here is what has been accomplished (come to our own conclusion how successful she has been):

  • The San Juan del Sur Biblioteca (SJDS Biblioteca) became the first public lending library in Nicaragua
  • It houses some 12,000 books and is constantly replacing old books  and adding new ones
  • 12,000 Nicaraguans have library cards to this library alone. SJDS has a population of 18,000
  • Biblioteca believes they have 6,000 active library users
  • Users borrow 800 books a month with over 90% of the books returned.  I am told the return rate is very impressive.
  • The Biblioteca Móvil project, which takes bins filled with books to poor rural communities in the areas surrounding San Juan del Sur, serves 31 communities to date.IMG_1200 copy
  • Biblioteca serves as a community center, providing space for study sessions, enrichment classes for preschool and classes in English.
  • This program has become a model for other organizations as well and through the “Library in a Box” Project has helped initiate and maintain 42 additional programs run by a variety of service groups, church groups, and individuals.

This is where our story with Wisconsin Nicaragua Partners will start with my next blog post.

IMG_1184 copyWant to help Jane and SJDS Biblioteca? Here are a few ideas:

  • Make a donation
  • Contact Jane and bring a shipment of her books with you when you visit SJDS.  She can arrange to have a shipment of books sent to your home.  Jane can buy books in the USA much cheaper than you can. If you bring a shipment, you will likely get a complimentary one-night stay in her hotel.
  • Better yet, visit her and learn how to start your own lending library in your favorite location of need.IMG_1208

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One Response to “Nicaragua’s First Lending Library”

  1. hereswhatsgoingon Says:

    Thanks for stopping by my site, and giving me a chance to see yours. I’m looking forward to reading more! My husband and I volunteered at the lending library in Boquete Panama, and the look of amazement on the school children’s faces when they went home with a book was wonderful to see!

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