Rincon, PR’s Library

I recently visited the public library in Rincon on the western coast of Puerto Rico. 

Rincon's plaza

A lovely town known for its surfing beaches, Rincon is possibly the landing site of the first Spanish explorers and the peninsula is home to about 17,000 habitantes in ten barrios (neighborhoods) scattered among the precipitous green hills. 

If I’m reading the Spanish brochure correctly, it would seem La Biblioteca Municipal Luis Munoz Marin was founded in 1980.

Shaded benches outside let you read while catching the breeze

One of the two library assistants, Migdalia Lorenzo, (Wanda Vializ, the other assistant, wasn’t there) was very helpful and welcoming and gave me a tour of the facility.  It was fascinating seeing a library where Spanish was the first language, especially as PR is a US territory.

Library rules

Migdalia told me they have English language titles as well as Spanish and lots of tourists from the states check them out by the dozens.  The library lends to anyone in PR and there are no late fees!  Migdalia or Wanda will call up patrons to remind them to return overdue items – at the end of the year they check their paper circulation records to see what’s missing. 

Migdalia by copier

The library has five old computers that access the internet and will give tourists guest passes. They have 17,000 books (including many Latin American classics), 300 multimedia items (many donated) plus magazines in their collection, which is quite old as all monies are frozen (except, hopefully the salaries for the four staffers (including the gardener and janitor)).  The mayor gives them the funds, but the current economy has made things difficult.  There’s also an area with books on the history of Puerto Rico with a section for Rincon.

Local history/records

There is no children’s room, but they do have books for kids.

Children's collection

They are very clever with their use of space.

Rolling shelves maximize space in the cooler downstairs area

Especially as the upstairs has no air conditioning.

Upstairs study area

There’s also a room with a TV, DVD player and slide projector.  During library week in April they have programs and storytimes here.

Program room

The library is conveniently located close to the plaza and they also provide free wi-fi for the whole downtown and beyond.  It’s a friendly institution in a beautiful, verdant area to live (or visit).

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3 Responses to Rincon, PR’s Library

  1. Kathy says:

    This last summer I toured libraries in Maracaibo, Venezuela and Santa Cruz, Bolivia, and the big difference between libraries there and here is that you can’t check out books. They must all be used on-site. The one in Maracaibo was very modern, with a computer lab, reference room, braille room for the blind and an on-going SRP activity in the Children’s room when I visited. The librarian who gave me the tour had never heard of audiobooks.

    The library in Santa Cruz was not highly used when I was there, and I only saw 2 computers – both on library staffer’s desks. They had never heard of storytimes, and the children’s area was set up mostly to help with homework, rather than to encourage reading for pleasure.

  2. jshaffner says:

    Hi Kathy, Got any pics of those libraries? I’d love to post them.

    I checked a bit and found a very small web presence for public PR libraries (the most comprehensive list was at http://www.librarysites.info/states/pr.htm . I couldn’t find any reference to a “territorial library” equivalent to our state libraries, and they charge for the San Juan public library membership http://yourlibrarysanjuan.org/ – which I didn’t get a chance to visit as flight was delayed a day in Dallas :(

    It’s great that Rincon doesn’t charge and checks out everything and is so nice about no fines etc. – it was interesting seeing paper records, record albums and videocasettes though. I believe Rincon is a fairly wealthy area of PR and there seem to be a number of expats who might expect a library to be there, but I think the library does get help from a local credit union/cooperative type of organization that benefits everyone in the area? Migdalia tried to explain it to me, but I’m not sure we really have the equivalent here. Touring all these different libraries really gives me a perspective on haves vs have nots – it’s the same as the education system and I just wish we could do things on a grander scale so everyone had equal access – like Jean Costello’s National Public Library Corporation idea (which of course is a nonprofit, unlike LSSI).

  3. Pingback: These are a few of our favorite things (at public libraries) | The Librarian is In

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