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Oaxaca Children's Library Project or

Biblioteca Pública Infantil y Juvenil Multilingüe OaxaCanadá y Amigos

The Oaxaca - Canadian Friendship Public Library for Children and Juveniles 


Our Rotary Club was touched by a vision; the passionate dream of Mexican teacher Mario Lopez. It began in 2000 when as a graduate student specializing in children's literacy he was studying for his M.A. in the UBC Department of Language and Literacy Education. Mario knew the secret passage to success for children in his home state of Oaxaca was through education and especially that learning English opened worlds of opportunity.


During the defense of his M.A. thesis Mario mentioned his dream of starting a children's library in his home town of Oaxaca, Mexico. His sincerity, enthusiasm and hard work impressed faculty member Dr. Graham Mallett who is a Tsawwassen Rotarian. Graham invited this visionary teacher to present his dream to the Rotary Club of Tsawwassen.


Mario inspired the Rotarians to undertake a children's book drive which, under the leadership of Graham, resulted in many thousands of books (about 10 tonnes) being collected, sorted and packaged on 14 pallets ready for shipping.


Unfortunately politics and bureaucracy in changing circumstances made it impossible to send the books to Oaxaca. So in cooperation with the Richmond Sunrise Rotary Club the books were eventually shipped to schools in the Philippines.


Disappointed by not getting the large collection of books to the Oaxaca library, the Tsawwassen Rotary Club donated $1000 for the first phase of this worthwhile library project.


Next the club entered into a joint project with the Rotary Club of Oaxaca and applied for matching grants from Rotary District 5040 and the Rotary Foundation. Tsawwassen Rotary contributed $CAN11,000 ($US9,243), District 5040 contributed $US4,201 and the Rotary Foundation contributed $US4,162 for a total of $US17,606.


Mario used the money to establish a children's library which opened in July 2002 with both Spanish and English language books. It is used by local children and by student teachers from the Language Centre of the University of Oaxaca.


An additional part of Mario's dream was providing mobile library services taking books to more elementary schools in the area. Shortly after the service began it was taken over by the Oaxaca state government and a foundation with the intention of expanding it further. Eventually it will provide library visits to 24 different neighbourhoods twice a month to reach more than one hundred thousand children per year.


Mario, justifiably proud of these accomplishments, has no intention of resting or stopping at what he sees as the beginning. To him these great successes are just the start of a much bigger response to an immense challenge.


Tsawwassen Rotarians are proud to be part of this beginning. In October, 2007 The Rotary Club of Tsawwassen was again able to contribute to the further development of Mario's dream. 


To see a photo album of the Oaxaca Children's Library project click  HERE . When the on-line photo album opens click on 'Slideshow' and enjoy.