Our Mission Statement . The Merida English Library (MEL) is a not-for-profit organization offering a variety of cultural, educational, informational and social programs, services and events to the English-speaking community in the Yucatán, irrespective of their level of English language proficiency. The cornerstone of MEL is a lending library that provides English-language material in all formats normally available from a traditional library.”
Library Collection. We have a collection of 15,000 books arranged in fiction, non-fiction, children, young adult, magazines, and we have numerous movies. We also have an extensive collection of Latin American Literature, and other reference books on Maya culture and the Yucatán. Our books are acquired from generous donations from the community.
Programs. From free weekly events to once-a-year fundraisers, the library strives to offer a variety of programs to meet the needs of our diverse community. We are always looking for new ways to engage members and visitors, so if you there’s a program you’d like to see at the library, email us!
Volunteers. The Merida English Library operates with volunteers! Volunteers serve on the Board, staff the front desk, organize and lead the activities, give lectures and serve as consultants in their fields of expertise. Would you like to join us? Come and talk to us!
Become a member and experience it all! Membership prices are:
Back in 1994, Elizabeth Dunkel stood up at an International Women’s Club Christmas brunch meeting and said, “Let’s start an English Library”. She couldn’t picture herself living in a community without a place for sharing books. Before Elizabeth took the initiative, all exchanges of reading materials in English were done informally.
Elizabeth hooked up with Chloe Pacheco, who, along with her lawyer, got the papers drawn up to found the Merida English Library Asociacion Civil. Their friend, Elie Guidotti loaned her house (on Calle 53) to the founders and that became the first location for the Library.
Others joined in to help. Colleen Leonard and others shelved books as donations began to come in from the English speaking community. Marilyn Estes Smith did the reference books and directed the cataloging. Ellen Lipscomb sort of ran things. Paulie Williams arranged for a couple of volunteer librarians from the states to vacation in Merida and lend some expertise to the enterprise.
In the first 18 months, the Library moved three times, finally coming to its current location on Calle 53 # 524 between Calle 66 and Calle 68. This was formerly the home of Marilyn Estes Smith, who always said that when she died she wanted MEL to have her house. The Mérida English Library has occupied Marilyn’s house ever since. All of us, members and volunteers alike, are grateful to the founders for their foresight and for their efforts in creating such a valuable community resource.
It is not always easy being a subscription library in a community that is used to having its library paid for by their taxes. Mérida English Library receives no funding from any level of government in Mexico. We generate operating revenues through subscriptions, fundraising events and donations from our benefactors. The story of the Mérida English Library is a story of generosity and dedication. So many people came forward in the formative years giving time, energy, books and money. Today, volunteers, members and patrons continue this cooperative effort. The Mérida English Library is a model of sharing and partnership.
Thanks to Lorna Gail Dallin, one of Mérida English Library’s volunteers and a former manager of the library, who contributed much of the information in this summary.