Quaint Quito

El Panecillo from Quito's Centro Historico

Looking from the Centro Historico toward El Panecillo up on the hill

Well, much of Quito, Ecuador is quaint, but the Parque La Carolina section around the Ministry of Education building is decidedly modern.

Biblioteca Pablo Palacio (named after the Ecuadorian writer) is located within this towering edifice, and is just one of the 600 public libraries run by the country’s National Library System, Sistema Nacional de Bibliotecas (SINAB).

The library

The entry is inside the Ministry

Before leaving on the trip, I contacted the manager for this location, Lili Aguilar Mora, who good-naturedly responded to my broken Spanish request to visit.  As I was using an online Spanish translator, there is a good probability that I may have misinterpreted some of our communications, so be advised, any mistakes in the post are mine.

Long shot of the library

Long shot of the library

It’s a nicely appointed space, with tile floors, numerous study areas and a Spanish Dewey poster on the side of a shelving unit.  Lots of plants and even a small tree in a huge pot add to the airy feel.

Children's room

Children’s area

The Sala Infantile (children’s room) appeared to be set up for a special event, and the furniture for the tiny tots was stacked by the picture windows to make room for it.  But the big people seating is surrounded by racks with face-out picture books shelved on top and items for older kids below.  Mobiles featuring dinosaurs and magicians, airplanes and pinwheels dangle down from the ceiling and pictures of a pirate, tiger, and an ostrich wearing ballet slippers deck the walls.

BPP has a toy library and I noticed a set of dominoes and Upwards underneath a shelf of several toddler’s playthings.  Other board games were piled above the lockers and there’s a puppet theater behind the cubbyholes stuffed with dolls and hand puppets.

Kids can read oversize books or select a film to watch on the big screen TV from the glass fronted media case which houses feature films, documentaries and learning titles including a series of children’s movies on values (social, religious, ethical…) and a set of Spanish Sesame Street DVDs.

A green view

A green view

Near a globe and the kid’s music CDs, vowel cut-outs cover part of a plate glass window that overlooks a green area above a pretty sunken garden.

BPP has storytimes and in July children had the opportunity to build their own puppets then write and act in a show they presented.

The small furniture appeared to be stacked in a corner to make room for a special event

The small furniture was pushed to one side

Though Lili wasn’t there, I chatted a bit with another helpful staff person, Pilar Nolivos, who told me that the view from the children’s room is of El Rucu Pichincha, a nearly 16,000’ peak that looms over the city, which we visited later that day with the aid of the Teleferico cable car.

Quito from El Rucu Pichincha

Quito from El Rucu Pichincha

Biblioteca Pablo Palacio (BPP) offers reference and web help and has an archival collection.  Established in 2004, they own over 19,000 items including slides, VHS and DVD films, audio cassettes, and music CDs and are open 8-4:30 Monday through Friday.  In their serials area they also hold magazines, newsletters, reports, etcetera.

Public internet carrels

Public internet carrels

Bright prints adorn the walls by the ten free computers, where users can search CD Roms like Atlas of the Human Body and Diccionario de Biografias or insert learning disks on subjects such as physics, history, biology, mathematics, technology and the natural sciences.

Periodicals - not quite sure why so many are about Korea

Periodicals display – not quite sure why so many are about Korea

BPP has a website/blog, which advertises some of their events such as a writing workshop for young adults that was held last November.  SINAB uses this site too and recently they visited schools with a program on Palacio featuring a living author.  SINAB also brings a booth promoting Ecuadorian storytelling and legend and staging plays with puppets to country fairs and last year, gave a week long training course to library employees.

The reference section

The reference section

They have wifi, and like many facilities in this ecologically minded country, provide recycling bins for cardboard, paper, plastics…

Interesting design

Interesting design

Back out in the lobby again I noticed a couple of imaginatively constructed cases filled with intriguing artifacts.

What a pleasant place!

The next day, I chanced upon another library, Biblioteca Parque El Ejido, near the southern end of the Mariscal Sucre district of the city.

El Ejido Library

El Ejido Library

Resembling a café more than a learning space, this fascinating glass structure is situated in an enormous park filled with creative playground and adult exercise equipment.

Outside, gorgeous shellacked benches made from tree trunks sit on a patio made of thin gray wood planks with pine islands fringed by bushes and stones.  It looks like it’s mainly a very convenient spot to access the internet as there are just four stacks of books, including some in French, German and English.   Wifi service is available both inside and out, so many people were enjoying the free connectivity and fresh air just beyond the entrance.

You'd almost feel like you were outside

You almost feel as if you’re outside

Though we went in to see the 12 PC’s for public use, the Christmas tree decorated with origami birds and presents, the little tables with multicolored chairs and a tiny leather couch near the children’s books, the Christmas garlands and the TV turned on low, since I forgot my camera, we came back on Sunday, when, unfortunately, they were closed, and got the shot above through the windows.

El Ejido Park

El Ejido Park

But what wonderful views customers have of all the activity in this bustling, popular park.

How delightful to get the chance to visit two well placed libraries that obviously serve the needs of their communities.

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