Monday, May 23, 2016

A busman's holiday-in search of the San Juan, Puerto Rico library

In the year 2000 our family adopted a dog from the Northeast Animal Shelter in Salem, Massachusetts. Clover was a feisty little mutt who had been rescued from the streets of San Juan, Puerto Rico by an outfit called Save A Sato - a nonprofit that helps street dogs find permanent homes. Clover lived with us until her death in 2010. Until last week she was the only member of our family to have been to Puerto Rico. My husband, daughter and I have all now experienced this beautiful island for ourselves.

Clover 1999-2010
In addition to seeing some spectacular sites, visiting a coffee farm (Golden Roseapple Farm), and making the general tourist stops (Arecibo Lighthouse, Arecibo Observatory, San Juan National Historic Site, and the Bacardí Distillery...

My lovely daughter enjoys her rum cocktail at the Bacardi Distillery

we, of course went looking for a public library. We noticed the iconic library sign  when we arrived in Old San Juan, but quickly felt as if we'd been sent on a wild goose chase.

First, we discovered the historic archives library in the Ateneo Puertorriqueño, of which only a small area was open

I noticed this bust of Miguel de Cervantes on top of the shelf. I had actually just downloaded Don Quixote to my iPad to read during the trip. I have not read this classic work since 1990.
Nearby, we discovered this beautiful old Carnegie Library, which was permanently closed.

A web search eventually brought us to the San Juan Community Library, which was nowhere near where we first saw the sign. It was about a seven mile drive, in fact.

The library was open and welcoming

The breezeway entry had books for sale and a place to sit...
And a reminder letting people know to get their library card!

In this library on this very bilingual island, books in English and Spanish sat side-by-side on the shelves. Blue dots marked English-language; red for Spanish.

There was a lot going on in a relatively small space, including a special corner for children
(photo credit James Hayes-Bohanan)
A library quest is always a good use of time. This library had public access computers, tables for reading, and even a small stage for programs all in one space.

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