Lake Atitlán Libraries (LAL) was founded to improve literacy in Guatemala and other Latin American countries by fostering and supporting libraries, schools, and teachers to promote reading in the classroom and at home. Currently, LAL works with Guatemalan organizations to identify local opportunities and methods to address literacy. All of the organizations employ Guatemalan staff who are part of their communities. Most of the funded programs are in the Sololá area of Guatemala, an area with many isolated indigenous villages.
In 1993, our friend Ann Cameron started working to improve the municipal library in Panajachel, in the Department of Sololá, Guatemala, where she had lived for almost 10 years. Lake Atitlán Libraries Inc. started in the late 1990s to help support Ann in her mission. By 2000, the Panajachel municipal library was filled with books, had trained library staff, and developed numerous programs with the local schools. The New York Times called the Bibloteca Popular, “the finest community library in Guatemala and perhaps in all of Central America.”
However, on November 28th of that year, the library burned to the ground, destroying nearly everything including over 8,000 books, five computers, and a photocopier. While the ashes of the beloved library were still smoldering, a local television station started a telethon, and local and international support poured in. The New York Times and LA Times even reported on the fire and the efforts to rebuild the library. Soon a new bigger and better library was built and opened by the municipality in 2002. LAL helped to provide the tables and bookcases, computers, books, and traditional weavings from the regions of Guatemala to promote a cultural identity.
When Ann and her late husband Bill Cherry left Guatemala to return to live in the United States in 2006, a new Guatemalan organization was formed to provide the local direction to determine the priorities to achieve the goals of improving literacy. Asociación Biblioteca Panajachelense y Regional (APB) was the
Guatemalan legal entity that LAL partnered with for six years, 2006 to 2012. Richard Adams, PhD, an American Anthropologist provided much of the work as a volunteer. In those six years, APB provided textbooks to over 100 basicos and libraries in the Lake Atitán area.
Since then, LAL has partnered with various organizations in Guatemala in our effort to provide books, supplies, training, and support to children, teachers, families, schools, and libraries. Learn more about our partners.
Our current partner works to serve the needs of children and their families that promote their growth and development including nutrition, health, and education. LAL has helped Mil Milagros purchase books and other supplies for school libraries as well as train teachers and mothers.
Daniele Agostino Derossi Foundation (Past Partner)
The Foundation focused on the well-being of women and children in the Mayan Communities of Guatemala. The projects funded are related to education, health, and the development of income-generating activities with an emphasis on weaving and textile products.
Child Aid (Past Partner)
Child Aid programs utilize a four-year teacher training program that also provides a literacy trainer to each school, who leads teacher workshops as well as acts as a resource for the school. With funding from the DeRossi Foundation, LAL helped expand this program to five additional schools.
Biblioteca Popular Panajachel(Past Partner)
LAL's original partner in Guatemala. Considered one of the best libraries in the country. LAL helped provide thousands of books, computers, and supplies to the library as well as helped rebuild it after a devasting fire.
Reading Village (Past Partner)
Reading Village provided scholarships to high school students in exchange for their working as trained reading promoters with younger students. At one point, Reading Village had 95 teens reading to 4,750 children. LAL provided books as well as helpedexpand the program's reach.
Lake Atitlán Libraries is actively seeking new partners to continue their on-the-ground work in Guatemala. If you know a organization or group doing great work in Guatemala, please reach out to us. email@example.com
Interested in helping us support literacy efforts in Guatemala?
Lake Atitlán Libraries is a 501(c)(3) public charity and all donations are tax-deductible.
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