Nicaragua’s first lending library marks 11th anniversary with fiesta

The San Juan del Sur Biblioteca, Nicaragua’s first lending library, celebrated its 11th anniversary Saturday, Nov. 17, at the library and adjacent central park. The street between the library and city park was blocked off to traffic for sports activities such as sack races and egg relays.

Children whacked at five piñatas, pressed their hand prints onto a poster, had their faces painted, and made ladybug-themed crafts to go along with this year’s Read for the Record Nicaragua book, Super Catarina y Los Super Insectos (Super Ladybug Girl and the Bug Squad), which was read from a stage to hundreds of children assembled in the park. The Mi Tierra Infantile dance troupe entertained during the event.

A young boy with a plastic sword as big as he is grins beneath his costume while another face-painted boy watches the photo session (photo / Paul Schlindwein)

One of the most popular activities was playing dress-up. Children donned costumes and posed for photos. Teachers from schools that participate in the library’s mobile program made Christmas ornaments during a craft session in the library. Staff and volunteers provided lunch from huge pots to more than 420 people; 400 pieces of cake were served from three large sheet cakes, according to Jane Mirandette, library director and founder.

All 18 board members of ANIBIPA, the Nicaraguan Library Association, attended the anniversary event. The Hester J. Hodgdon (HJH) Libraries for All Program, a United States non-profit organization, funds the library and related programs, including a Library in a Box program to help other communities start lending libraries. Arco Irdes, a teen girls’ group from Tipitapa Biblioteca, one of the first Library in a Box recipients, volunteered at the block party, manning craft and face-painting stations, said Mirandette.

During the anniversary party, representatives of Colegio Stella Maris, the local high school, presented certificates of appreciation to the library staff and to Mirandette; in addition, Mirandette, César Augusto Lacayo, Edwin Rivera, Susan Bauss, and the library staff as a whole received certificates of appreciation for their support of education from the communities of Tortuga and Bernardino Diaz Ochoa.

The library sponsored art and poetry contests for children in advance of the anniversary, with winners announced during the event. Poetry winners were: John Alexander, first place; Karely Sofia Gutierrez, second place; and Clarisa Jorena Dangla, third place. Art contest winners were Xochill Yohana Guadamuz Campos, first place; Ariela Regina Noguera Espinoza, second place; and Andrea Maria Majia Silva, third place. The best readers among children, young adults and adults also received certificates and gifts.

The contests and anniversary party events were limited to library cardholders who were in good standing, with no overdue books. “Many people ran home to get their overdue books,” said Mirandette. That requirement helps the library’s return rate.