The mission of the Mayagüez Children’s is to contribute to the transformation of our society
- by providing and facilitating access to books and programs that encourage recreational reading in the family,
- by offering and stimulating the creation of opportunities for informal learning among members of the community,
- by helping to reduce educational, social and technological gaps through the library services that we offer, and
- by developing work-related skills and values among our youth through our volunteer service program.
Our vision is to continue to grow as a library that serves the needs of western Puerto Rico with up-to-date resources, services and public programs.
Ms. Jackie Winter and her family arrived in Puerto Rico in 1991 with two small children; her husband had just accepted a position as professor in the Department of Marine Sciences at the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez (RUM). Upon her arrival, Jackie realized that Mayaguez did not have a public library with good educational material aimed at promoting love of reading and good reading habits among children. Not knowing anyone in Mayaguez and with very little knowledge of Spanish, but with the tenacity and the will of a mother who only seeks the best for her children, she set out to find a place to begin a small library for children and youth.
The place she found was located on the third floor at the Citibank branch office on the Plaza Colón in the center of Mayagüez and has been our location ever since.The building was later acquired by Westernbank which sponsored the library for the next 14 years. Since 2010 our primary sponsor has been the Banco Popular Foundation. Over the years, the loyal support of many individuals, businesses and government entities and has made Jackie Winter’s dream a reality.
When the Mayagüez Children’s Library / Biblioteca Juvenil de Mayagüez Inc. (MCL/BJM) opened in 1992, it was the first independent, public, and bilingual community library specializing in providing services to the children and youth of Puerto Rico. It had a very modest beginning indeed – two bags full of books donated Children’s Literature for Children of Atlanta, Georgia, USA. Since then, it has grown to house a collection of approximately 20,000 fiction and non-fiction reading materials, in both Spanish and English, for children and youth at all reading levels and for mature readers as well. It now has a computer center with 12 up-to-date computers and free Wi-Fi for the community to use.
The name of the MCL/BJM has transcended the borders of our beloved city of Mayagüez; in 2004, it was recognized for its excellent service to the community by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and the First Lady of the United States, Mrs. Laura Bush. Juan Carlos Gaston, then Executive Director, went to the White House to receive the IMLS 2004 National Library Service Award, the highest award given to museums and libraries of the United States of America. The Mayagüez Children’s Library was the first Puerto Rican library to receive this recognition.