The History of the Jane Stern Dorado Community Library
When Jane Stern moved from New York City to the tropical island of Puerto Rico in 1963, she was already an established community activist. First instrumental in founding the Mayagüez and Ponce chapters of the League of Women Voters, Jane set her sights on creating the island’s first community library. On February 4, 1974, the library opened to the public, established by Stern and 19 other families in Dorado who wanted to offer this small town a place to read, learn, and interact. A classroom at a local school served as its “cradle” with a collection of only one hundred books and a schedule of two hours, two days a week. In a very short time its membership grew from 19 to 200. In 2008 the library occupied a newly remodeled space provided by the municipality of Dorado in the Luis Muñoz Marín Government Building, 331 Méndez Vigo Street.
From its earliest days, the goals set forth by the library included engaging the population in activities and services, matching resources to users, offering education and training, and providing diverse materials for the community’s education and enjoyment. The library became known for its story hour programs, English and Spanish classes and its summer workshops for kids, which continue to this day with programs on art, photography, tae kwon do, drama and more. In addition to programs for Dorado’s school-age population, the library continued to reach out to senior citizens through a variety of initiatives, including yoga and computer literacy courses.
JSDCL has also been the strongest proponent for the creation of other community libraries on the island. In 1987, the library helped institute a community library in San Juan. The San Juan Rotary Club and the Jane Stern Dorado Community Library created the formal partnership "Libraries for Literacy," and as of 2007, seven new community libraries were established, courtesy of this program.
In 2001 Puerto Rico’s Ángel Ramos Foundation awarded the library the prestigious Tina Hills Prize for Community Service. In 2008, the library won a unique and most special recognition from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. The Library was one of five libraries selected nationally to receive a medal presented by First Lady Laura Bush in Washington, D.C.
The Jane Stern Dorado Community Library has become the heart of its community, connecting people– young and old– to books, programs, the Internet and one another. The library has continually modernized its services to keep pace with the growth of the Municipality of Dorado into a significant suburb of San Juan with its corresponding increase in the number of full-time residents. Adding to its lending and educational services, the library now also serves as a conduit to various government agencies online and provides wireless access to the Internet for those with their own laptops. Two computer labs with 26 computers are open for courses and use by the public.