My Reasons for Supporting the HJH Libraries for All Program in Nicaragua — by Anne Pellowski
Although I am no longer able to go to Nicaragua to do training workshops or work in other ways to support their programs with a visit, I still try to contribute with small monetary gifts.
I have made annual visits from 2012 through 2018, and was so impressed with the progress of this project, and the ways in which it involved the local communities of the town of San Juan del Sur and the villages in the surrounding area. The establishment of the first public library in Nicaragua to loan books to children and youth for free was a step that everyone predicted would end in disaster, with most of the books not being returned. But that did not happen and the library continues to function with very few losses of books.
The extension of library services to schools, through their mobile library system, brought good reading materials to the village schools for the first time in the lives of those children. Furthermore, there were always exciting story hours, quizes, short dramatic scenes, or other reading promotion ideas that accompanied the mobile units, because the young staff is so enthused about their work.
Whenever another community wanted to start up a volunteer library, Jane Mirandette and her staff was always ready to find a donation of books to start them off, with promises to find them other good reading materials at the lowest possible cost.
In my last three visits, I was thrilled to be able to work with groups of expectant or new mothers, making cloth books of the simplest kinds, to use with their babies and start them early on a love of books. It is indeed in such ways that the lifetime habit of reading begins.
I believe that the HJH Libraries for All Program in the San Juan del Sur region of Nicaragua is one of the best examples I have ever seen of how to go about setting up and continuing a reading promotion campaign in an area where previously virtually no easy public access to books existed.