Our History

Our History

Timeline
  • First donation of books to library at Vicente Guerrero
1998
  • Second library (at Colonia Zapoteca) receives LPP books donation
2000
  • Oaxaca Lending Library Foundation accepts LPP as a program
2003
  • First tours to LPP-supported libraries
2008
  • First Annual Conference for LPP library managers
2009
  • LPP becomes an “Asociación Civil,” a non-profit organization recognized by Mexican law.
  • Janet Stanley takes the position of LPP's first President
  • First LPP website is established
2011
  • 15 new libraries established during the year
  • 1st annual strategic planning meeting with Sandra Thomson
  • LPP creates the role of volunteer Regional Coordinator
2012
  • LPP hires its first Executive Director
2013
  • LPP begins to receive donations from Canadian Friends of Oaxaca Inc.
2014
  • LPP moves into first office in co-working space
  • 1st Regional Workshop held in Teposcolula
2015
  • LPP moves into office space on OLL terrace
  • LPP hires a full-time Program Coordinator
  • Introduction of tablet project with Regional Coordinators and ten libraries
  • LPP begins to receive donations from Friends of Libros Para Pueblos Inc.
2016
  • LPP hires a full-time Administrative Coordinator
  • Fundraising effort initiated to expand office space
  • First mobile market library in Llano Park
2017
  • Training for Regional Coordinators results in creation of Rutas Literarias project
  • LPP holds 20th anniversary celebration 
2018
  • Establisment of three permanent reading promotion projects (Rutas Literarias, Puppetry, Storytelling)
  • LPP network maintains 74 libraries throughout the state
2019

In 1998, two expats living in Oaxaca – Tom Dunham and Jim Breedlove – were inspired to share their passion for reading with children for whom books were out of reach. They built some bookshelves and gave small collections of books to a few pre-schools. The children were thrilled and Jim and Tom began to think bigger. In collaboration with the Oaxaca Lending Library, they founded Libros Para Pueblos (LPP) with the mission of providing collections of top-quality children’s books to schools, public libraries, and community organizations.

This simple act of generosity was the spark for what has now become a network of more than 70 libraries, an organization staffed by three full-time employees, a team of nine volunteer regional coordinators, and a yearly purchase of more than 8,000 books.

Jim’s and Tom’s legacy can be clearly seen in a few statistics:

In 2019…

  • 4,730 books were loaned in the libraries per week
  • 7,958 users from 1 to 18+ years old visited the libraries per week
  • 8,159 new books were acquired and distributed
    to network libraries.
  • More than 150 library managers and municipal authorities attended the Annual Conference on February 23, 2019.

Their initial step of sharing a passion for reading among disadvantaged children has inspired hundreds of library sponsors, donors, and supporters to make a difference in the lives of thousands of Oaxacan children and families.

In 2011 LPP became an official Asociación Civil (Mexican non-profit); 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 oneonone advice to the librarians. An annual statewide conference and regional workshops help 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 2013, it hired its first Executive Director. In 2015, the organizational structure was reorganized and the majority of the board is Mexican and contributions are now taxdeductible in Mexico as well as in Canada and the US.

“One thing has not changed: Our belief in the power of reading for enjoyment and discovery.”

Founders

Tom Dunham

Together with his fellow “expat” Jim Breedlove, Tom gathered some books together to give to a children’s library in 1998, and with this simple act, they provided the spark that would become Libros Para Pueblos.

Among his other accomplishments, Tom was a past President of the OLL Board, a member of the Book Committee, and the designer of its logo. A list of accomplishments, however, does not capture Tom’s intense commitment to books and reading and enthusiasm for his beloved Oaxaca community.

Tom was born in New York on June 4, 1942. He grew up in Hawaii and on the East Coast of the U.S. He served in the Military and went to school at Cal and NYU. Before coming to Oaxaca, he was a freelance photographer in Princeton NJ. He taught middle school in Oaxaca for 12 years. Through it all, he was always a writer. And if that’s not enough, he was on Jeopardy! He is the author of such as “What You Have is This” and “Tattoos, Barracuda Teeth, and a Lady Who Talked to Worms,” both available at the OLL.

Tom passed away in early 2020 and leaves behind two children, Andrea Dunham and Daniel Dunham, and his wife of 26 years, Ana Moreno.

Every Oaxacan child who opens a book donated by Libros Para Pueblos, now and in the future, is a living part of Tom´s and Jim’s legacy.

Jim Breedlove

Jim and his friend Tom Dunham were the two expats residing in Oaxaca who provided the spark for LPP when, twenty years ago, they gave a small collection of books to a local school library. They could not have foreseen that today, LPP would coordinate a network of more than seventy library partners throughout the state and distribute more than 9,000 new books annually.

Jim was born August 28, 1937, and his passion for Latin American studies first led him to the position of Assistant Librarian, Latin American Collection, University of Texas at Austin. He later became the curator for the Latin American and Iberian Collections of the Center on Latin American Studies at Stanford University, a position he held for twenty years. Upon his retirement, Jim moved to Mexico in 1993.

When asked what he was most proud of in his life, Jim answered, “Libros Para Pueblos.”

Jim passed away in 2018. His legacy will continue to change the lives of thousands of children and their children. Jim’s family is sponsoring the library in San Luis Beltrán in his honor.