I first heard about One Library At A Time in January 2016, when a nearby volunteer was collaborating with them. OLAT is a non-profit that works directly with communities at a grassroots level to foster literacy through building libraries. After speaking with community members and gauging their interest in this initiative, we set to work writing a solicitation letter to OLAT. After much persistence, we secured a spot for July 2017!
Fast-forward to June 2017 and the ball really gets rolling. A team of three volunteers from OLAT booked their tickets to come to Renacimiento and facilitate how to properly catalog and manage a library. In the community, preparations were made for the library’s location at the Primary School, who would be the two librarians (one the school director, the other a community member), who would assist cook lunch for the three days of work, who could contribute firewood, and I arranged all the food with the local store owner. Outside of the community, I worked with a bookstore owner in Changuinola to purchase $700 worth of books. OLAT would be bringing $300, for a total donation $1,000 worth of library books. The books range from dictionaries to resources, fiction to non-fiction. In addition, Books for a Better World kindly donated 20 lbs. worth of wonderful books to add to the collection.
With all the preparations made, we were ready to begin work! For three days in July we worked from 9 AM-1 PM organizing the books into their genres, creating catalog cards, book labels, and alphabetizing them on the shelves. OLAT also donated various plastic containers to store the books in, so as to protect them from the humidity, bats, cucarachas, ants and more jungle critters. Meanwhile, some muchachos and kiddos helped paint chairs, the bookshelf, and an alphabet in the library. We put up some decorations of maps, flags, informative posters, a calendar, and made a big Thank You card for OLAT and BFABW.
The work went extremely well as everyone supported one another and more curious individuals trickled in each day. Having completed a morning of work, we spent the afternoons hiking to waterfalls, playing volleyball, relaxing at my house, facilitating English classes, and touring Heidy Organic Chocolates. Overall the library project was a complete success on every level, and a fantastic way to finish my Peace Corps Service. The community is so elated to boast a library and maintain it for years to come.
A HUGE THANK YOU once more to One Library At A Time and Books For A Better World for all your support!


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