The Biblioteca Pública para Galápagos y el Mundo is conveniently located right behind the municipal offices in the busy center of Puerto Ayora, the most populated town on Isla Santa Cruz, and on these far flung Ecuadorian islands.
Santa Cruz during the dry season is a curious mix. To the north, parched landscapes give way to the foggy green highlands with cattle ranches where giant tortoises graze next to bemused bovines. Descending from this magical area brings hotter temperatures, but the verdant foliage remains, even as you enter Puerto Ayora, one of the main tourism hubs of the Galápagos and home to more than 12,000 people. It’s a spectacularly creative locale. Bright red crabs scurry about beneath lush mangrove trees. Marine iguanas and lava deposits lie next to the turquoise ocean on one side of the brick street, while intricately designed and vibrantly colored houses, hotels and storefronts attract the eye as you stroll toward the harbor.
Not to be outdone by local merchants and builders, the public library also features many interesting touches from a lava rock wall to the wheelchair ramp bordered in white stucco and huge curvy gray wood framed windows reminiscent of waves and portholes.
The roof over the doorway provides shelter during the rainy season and shade from the blazing light the rest of the year.
Inside, Assistant Marlena España welcomed me warmly and answered many of my questions. They have free wifi and outlets on the floor to keep your electronics charged. Six public internet computers are available in the adult area and there are two terminals for the younger set.
Nearby, a glass fronted cases holds Galápagos history books.
Items can be checked out, and they have a few DVDs for in-house viewing on the big screen TV which sits in a gleaming cabinet. The system includes a stereo with tall, skinny oblong speakers.
In another area, near back issues of National Geographic magazine, Japanese titles sit by a shelf of English materials. Evidently, the embassy of Japan joined forces with the local government and the Galápagos National Park Guides to support the facility, and other companies and individuals have contributed to the effort as well.
Blessedly, the building is air conditioned (at sea level this is a very hot and humid place) and potable water is also provided from a container by an adorable penguin book holder.
It’s a pleasant space with a pretty tile floor, lovely wood furniture and shelves. White cloth blinds and flowing curtains keep out the hot sun.
Reference volumes sit under a shapely window and there are lots of biology texts and encyclopedia sets, many dealing with nature, ecosystems, and the environment, all obviously topics of huge concern as the islands’ economy is greatly dependent on ensuring the propagation of the remarkable species and flora found here. Knowing how aware the residents are of the importance of conservation, it’s no surprise that the library uses CFL bulbs in their Asian style hanging lamps.
Off the Children’s section, a little room, with its own door to the outside, provides a spot for enthusiasts to play chess. The huge pieces lined up atop a cabinet must entice youngsters to pick up the pastime.
Children’s has multicolored little chairs and tiny tables and offers two programs per week. In a corner interlocking floor mats are stored in anticipation of the next story time. Origami mobiles and yarn dream catchers hang from the ceiling and a bin is painted with a scene of fish and crabs.
Shades with batik tropical fish on them protect the space from the intense light.
Tots can also amuse themselves with puzzles and games. An abacus and a set of animal figures teach them about math and biology.
The Children’s Area has more of the cute Galápagos themed racks including a sea horse, whale (appropriately containing oversize picture books) and of course turtles.
What a unique little library – the people of this marvelous place have really made it their own!