The library supports and sponsors various charitable outreach programs, and as such is a valuable resource which benefits the broader Oaxacan population. Donations it receives from American taxpayers are deductible through a U.S. Foundation (Canadians can give it a try, but be prepared for CRA to reject the write-off, since to my knowledge a Canadian foundation has not yet been formed). The OLL also facilitates the learning of English and Spanish for respectively Oaxacans and expatriates (mainly Americans and Canadians), with special emphasis on children and youths.
íKids Go! is a pre-school program which teaches underprivileged children basic socialization and learning skills prior to their entry into public school. The program currently has about 60 participants.
Youth Adelante addresses learning of Oaxacan teens by assisting them with their Spanish, library and computer skills, through supporting their socialization with visiting foreign students.
Linda's Kitchen teaches mentally and physically handicapped young people to function productively in various types of restaurant work. After completing the program the graduate youths are assisted by the Kitchen personnel and others associated with the OLL, to find paid employment in Oaxaca's working world.
[I have my own program independent of the library, wherein I encourage visitors to Oaxaca to fill the empty suitcase they'll be bringing down (earmarked for craft, clothing and rug purchases) with new or gently used clothing, toys and educational tools. I pick up the bounty from hotels and B & Bs upon receiving a call or email, and then distribute directly to families I know to be in need, or to the administration of rural schools, which often has a better handle on identifying the families of students clearly living on the edge.]
With the support of Oaxacan restauranteurs and other benefactors, charity dinners are held on a regular basis. There's also an annual rummage and bake sale, the occasional fine art auction which is generously supported through donations of works by Oaxacan artists, and additional ongoing efforts aimed at fundraising.
And of course there are periodic book and DVD sales on the premises. Occasionally it's necessary to cull the collections, especially after a large, new donation has been made. There are always books and DVDs for sale, but the best time to find real bargains is when sales first begin.
A monthly newsletter keeps members and visitors up to date. At the library premises there's a bulletin board with postings for personal and professional services, as well as other announcements and news; a binder with accommodations wanted and being offered and homes / land for sale; and other helpful resources.
On saturday mornings, Spanish and English speakers, children and adults alike, gather at the Oaxaca lending library to assist one another to better their language skills, on a semi-formal basis. There are opportunities to arrange for ongoing intercambios, whereby on a fixed schedule hour-long sessions can take place to assist Oaxacans to better their English, and Americans and Canadians to improve their Spanish. These informal discussions often supplement more formal language training.
Alvin Starkman has a masters in anthropology and law degree from Osgoode Hall Law School. A resident of Oaxaca, Alvin writes, takes couples and families to the sights, is a consultant to documentary film companies working in southern Mexico, and operates Casa Machaya Oaxaca Bed & Breakfast, a unique b & b providing accommodations which combine the privacy and amenities of an apartment, and comfort of Oaxaca hotels with the personal touch and service of country inn lodging. Alvin also leads culinary tours of Oaxaca with Chef Pilar Cabrera Arroyo www.oaxacaculinarytours.com.