A desire by one woman to put books into the hands of children in Nicaragua has changed the lives of many Nicaraguans due to her expertise in collaboration.

In November 2001, Jane Mirandette found herself in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua, semi-retired, and owning a bed and breakfast hotel. She realized quite quickly that there were no children with books in their hands. Up until she arrived, Nicaragua had no lending libraries. If someone wanted to read a book, they would have to go to a government-run library in a large city. Books were kept behind the desk, so the person would have to request a particular book, and the staff would retrieve it. Then the person would sit in the library and read it. Adult or not, no one was allowed to take books out of the library. It was the rule.

CNN feature about Libraries For All.
Video introduction to Libraries For All.

Jane had grown up with a tradition of reading and she felt strongly those children needed books. Her “lending library” started out on the patio of her newly-purchased hotel and adults and children would come and borrow books. Later it expanded to a small building across the street, and it currently resides in a much larger, newly renovated building one block away from the hotel.

When Jane started the lending project, she was met with naysayers: “They won’t bring the books back!”, but she persevered. Children needed books, and that was that. And they did bring the books back because they wanted to check more books out! The library’s return rate has stayed around 97% since the library opened in 2001.

In 2003, Jane realized that she could provide more children with books by visiting local schools in the countryside surrounding San Juan del Sur. The Mobile Project (Now called Biblioteca Movil) visits 36 surrounding communities once a month and allows children to check out whatever books they would like. The Mobile Project started out small, but soon grew when teachers and community leaders learned of this service. To this day, The Mobile Project does not visit a school unless they request our services as a way to ensure that we respect their space and have a sustainable project that the community is invested in.

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