Tom Dunham y Jim Breedlove, two expats living in Oaxaca, Mexico, were inspired to share their love of reading with children for whom books were out of reach. In 1998, they built some bookshelves and gave a small collection of books to a few pre‐schools. The children were thrilled; Dunham and Breedlove began to think bigger. Working with the Oaxaca Lending Library, they founded Libros Para Pueblos (LPP) , with the mission of establishing libraries in public primary schools.
LPP became a separate organization in 2000; today it works with more than 70 Oaxacan communities, Libros Para Pueblos, has established a network of sponsors whose generous annual gifts ensure that the library collections will continue to grow. In addition to providing books and advice, LPP is committed to providing support and guidance to its libraries through a network of Mexican Regional Coordinators who offer one‐on‐one advice to the librarians. An annual state‐wide conference and regional workshops helps novice librarians to build their skills and to learn from each other.
LPP continues to rely on volunteers, but as it grew, the need for paid staff became apparent. In 2014, it hired its first Executive Director. In 2015, the corporate structure was reorganized and LPP is now a civil association recognized by Mexican law; the majority of the board is Mexican and contributions are now tax‐deductible in Mexico as well as in Canada and the US. LPP also works to make related technologies such as the Internet accessible.
"One thing has not changed: Our belief in the power of reading for enjoyment and discovery."
Tom Dunham survived the 60s, the end of them at UC Berkeley, no less, and moved on to New York University, where he studied until the money ran out‐‐NYU’s, not his. He and his growing family had nada to start with. And just as well, as it turned out. Classroom learning was losing its appeal, to say nothing of the afternoon to late night commute; central Jersey to downtown NYC during the Big Apple’s bankrupt years when a single encrusted 20 watt bulb served every dank and airless subway stop, and bodies, sleeping or otherwise, made navigating stairs and entrances a dicey affair. By chance an editor friend saw some photos Tom had taken, told him he’d pay him if he’d take some more, and for the next twenty‐odd years that’s what he did. Never enjoyed himself as much, he says, until the twelve years he spent here in Oaxaca teaching geography to middle school students. Tom’s been writing since 1992. One day in 1998, he and his friend Jim Breedlove, built some bookshelves and gave a small collection of books to a few pre‐schools. The children were thrilled. Without knowing it, they founded Libros para Pueblos.
Jim Breedlove is a Curator, Emeritus, for Latin American Collections, Stanford University Libraries. He was a lecturer (1969‐1993) at the Institute of Latin American Studies Stanford University. He has been a Oaxacan resident since 1998 and with Libros para Pueblos since its beginning.