Pictured above: artist Ruben Gomez and his wife Felix de Gomez Maldonado.
Dra. Katia Padilla Bautista grew up in Morelia, a southern city in Mexico. She recalls her parents would only buy her a book if she got good grades. “Every time I earned a book, I remember reading it slowly because they only gave grades every 2 months!” says Katia. “Of course, reading so much paid off. I became a doctor and moved to the United States.”
Katia’s passion for reading spread to her two children, and her house filled with books. “I always thought there should be somewhere to exchange books, and then one day, I saw the most beautiful little box, and it was filled with books! I ran up to it and saw the plaque ‘Little Free Library.’ My dream had come true!”
Some of Katia’s family live in Rosarito, Mexico. She decided to bring a little library there, and thus “Pequeña Biblioteca Gratuita ‘Reforma’ Rosarito, B.C. Charter #101243” came to life. We asked Katia to share her experience and advice with other stewards.
Why did you decide to start a Little Free Library?
I wanted to honor my history, that little girl that had to study so hard to earn a book. I wanted for all those little kids out there (like me) that were always hungry for more books to have no barriers and no limits to access a book every day if they wanted. I thought of my country, which has almost no access to books due to poverty, lacks a culture of reading, and has very few libraries. I decided that Rosarito is where my next Little Free Library would be.
How did you get the library up and running?
I posted on Facebook group “Rosarito Living” to get suggestions of places to put the little library. That’s when a miracle happened! Retired librarians, police officers, teachers, and artists all contacted me to help build our Little Free Library! It was so amazing to see American citizens and Mexicans working together to get it done.
A retired Navy Diver and Police Detective (Robert C. Smith) built the library and had the idea of installing it right across from the Secretaria de Marina (Marine Base) to discourage vandalism. After having a meeting with the marines, they agreed to keep an eye on the library for us. After six months, our LFL looks as good as new! The artist that painted the library (Ruben Gomez) was inspired by the Marines. The paintings recognize the honor of the loyal soldiers that are taking care of it and helping make books available to the community.
How do you keep the library stocked with books?
Many local writers have donated autographed books to our library. A retired librarian (Elsa Bautista) makes sure that we have all genres and both languages (English and Spanish) available always for all ages. Many teachers and community members help in keeping up our multilingual/multicultural Little Free Library working. We have many future plans that haven’t been done due to COVID-19, but we are ready. There is a marvelous future waiting for our Little Free Libraries in Mexico—many more to come!
Keep up with the latest happenings on Pequeña Biblioteca Gratuita ‘Reforma’ Rosarito’s Facebook page!