I first heard of Libros Libres (Free Books) in Puerto Rico via a friend’s Facebook feed. The concept is similar to Little Free Library but it wasn’t just a small looking type mail box. It was a wall with milk crates fixated onto them full of books, tons of them!
Libros Libres started in June of 2015. Their main goal was to revive communities that were abandoned, so neighbors can walk freely, trusting the streets that were once abandoned to be able to exchange conversations, and share one thing in common a love for literacy and books.
As I planned our holiday vacation to Puerto Rico, visiting one of the Libros Libres locations was on my to-do-list. Before our arrival, I mailed books to my Mom who lives in Puerto Rico, because I too wanted to go with little one to donate books. I wanted to show my son the power, and will of a community to revive it’s neighborhood through literacy. It was an experience of a lifetime!
With our books in hand we made our way to Santurce’s parada in the Ave. Poncede León #1404 to drop off our books. We witnessed first hand two elderly men talking about poetry, and exchanging books they’d be interested in reading. We saw a young mother with her child in stroller happily putting books in a bag. We even saw a lady who took her time to review each book that she wanted to read.
These books are “libres” in this case free to use, and return at any time during the day or night.
My son’s eyes lit up when he saw all of these books, and his first question was, “¿Mami podemos llevarnos algunos libros?” Mommy, can we take some books? Sadly though visiting Libros Libres was done the day before our departure back home to the U.S.A. so we didn’t take any books. I did tell him that in our next visit, “Vamos a tomar uno y dejar uno.” Take one, leave one.
Libros Libres actually has six locations across the island. We came across the Ponce location one but it didn’t have any books. Perhaps, on our next visit it will be full of books! If you’re visiting Puerto Rico, or live on the island you too can be part of this community initiative. The simple act of donating books that would otherwise make it to the dumpster will positively impact the community, and while you’re at it you take a book and meet some really great people.
Can’t wait to return to my beloved Isla del Encanto to see how many more locations are across the island. Are there any Libros Libres or Free Little Libraries in your community?
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