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Lake Atitlan Libraries

The Lake Atitlan Libraries (LAL) was founded to improve literacy in Guatemala and other Latin American countries by fostering and supporting libraries, schools and teachers to promote reading in the classroom and home. Currently LAL works with  Guatemalan organizations to identify local opportunities and methods to address literacy. All of the organizations employ Guatemalan staff who are part of their communities.  Most of the funded programs are in the Sololá area of Guatemala, an area with many isolated indigenous villages.

History and Mission

Bill Cherry and Ann Cameron in Guatemala

In 1993 our friend Ann Cameron started working to improve the municipal library in Panajachel, in the Department of Sololá, Guatemala, where she had lived for almost 10 years. Lake Atitlan Libraries Inc, started in the late 1990’s to provide donors with a tax deduction. By 2000 the Panajachel municipal library was filled with books, had trained library staff and lots of programs with the local schools. However, in November that year the library burned to the ground. With local and international support, a bigger and better new library was built and opened by the municipality in 2002. LAL helped to provide the tables and bookcases, computers, books, and traditional weavings from the regions of Guatemala to promote a cultural identity. 

At the same time, LAL reached out to stimulate and support the development of libraries around Lake Atitlan and in other areas where people understood the purpose of libraries. When Ann and her husband Bill Cherry left Guatemala to return to live in the United States in 2006, a new Guatemalan organization was formed to provide the local direction to determine the priorities to achieve the goals of improving literacy. Asociación Biblioteca Panajachelense y Regional (APB) was the Guatemalan legal entity that LAL partnered with for six years- 2006 to 2012. Richard Adams, PhD, an American Anthropologist who is married to a Guatemalan and has lived for most of his adult life in Guatemala and the US provided much of the work as a volunteer.  In those six years, APB provided textbooks to over 100 basicos and libraries in the  Lake Atitlan area.

Children learning from books


Read more about our goals and partners.

News: Read our December 2018 newsletter including information about changes to Reading Village (.pdf).

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