Puerto Rico Necesita Bibliotecas (Puerto Rico Needs Libraries)






Libraries are spaces for intellectual growth, social development, empowerment, and leisure. They are spaces dedicated to making reading and learning available for everyone as a way to invest in the social and cultural capital of a community. At the Puerto Rico Necesita Bibliotecas (Puerto Rico Needs Libraries) Advocacy Project , we believe that libraries must be a primary part of a country's educational plan.

Puerto Rico does not have a national system of libraries that includes school libraries, public libraries, academic libraries and specialized libraries, despite the fact that Puerto Rico’s public policy related to the development of our libraries (Law No. 188 of 2003) makes such a system mandatory. Therefore, we cannot expect that the current controversial plan for the educational restructuring of Puerto Rico will prioritize libraries.

The information access, reading and recreational needs of Puerto Rico’s children and youth are not being addressed by Puerto Rico’s Department of Education during this historical moment of economic and political upheaval our country is experiencing. Puerto Rico’s young people do not have proper spaces to read, explore, develop metaliteracy competences or simply escape to other worlds. They do not have the safe havens that libraries and reading can provide. Public libraries are almost nonexistent. Some municipalities have a library where conditions resemble those of the nation’s school libraries: a lack of resources, materials, infrastructure, personnel, and programming.

I founded the Puerto Rico Necesita Bibliotecas (PRNB) advocacy project in 2018, during the summer after Hurricane María. I was on vacation and spent a lot of time thinking, meditating, and taking action on something I am passionate about: libraries and their conditions in Puerto Rico. PRNB intends to raise awareness of the importance of free and equitable access to information and knowledge, and to advocate for library issues and funding in relevant legislative and governmental forums.
Puerto Rico’s young people do not have proper spaces to read, explore, develop metaliteracy competences or simply escape to other worlds. They do not have the safe havens that libraries and reading can provide. Public libraries are almost nonexistent.
Puerto Rico has had moments when our governments gave libraries their due as essential institutions which have faced great challenges. Sadly, this is not one of those moments. These are precarious times for Puerto Rico. Our Carnegie Public Library in San Juan has been closed since 2010. Puerto Rico’s Metropolitan Area does not have a public library.


We want to encourage public debate on the opening of libraries and build awareness about their contribution to the social, economic and cultural wealth of our island. We need to promote childhood reading and caregiver involvement in childhood literacy. Libraries allow for free, fair and democratic access to information, and inclusive library services can foster an environment of diversity and egalitarianism, which is why we seek to educate people about the importance of having a library in their community. PRNB wants to stimulate dialogue between community members, educators, influential figures, and importantly, youth. We also aim to research the root causes behind the deterioration of Puerto Rico’s libraries and their lack of visibility.

We began with a blog and social media accounts. Our second phase includes a plan for a radio program, podcasts and direct action to make our voices heard on a national level in the legislature. Please support our work by visiting the Puerto Rico Necesita Bibliotecas blog.

You can follow us on Facebook: @puertoriconecesitabibliotecas,Twitter: @PRPROBiblioteca, and Instagram: @prnecesitabibliotecas.

About the Author

Rossana I. Barrios Llorens is a virtual reference librarian and website content developer for the Conrado F. Asenjo Library at the University of Puerto Rico's Medical Science Campus. She is the founder of the Puerto Rico Necesita Bibliotecas Advocacy Project and a quality assurance consultant for higher education learning resources. She holds a Master's degree in Information Sciences from the University of Puerto Rico, and is involved in her institution’s Framework Metaliteracy Project. You can look out for her as username 'PI Illios' in the Second Life virtual video game.




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