Founded in October 1987, San Juan Community Library (SJCL) is a nonprofit organization duly organized under the laws of Puerto Rico and it is exempt for local tax purposes, as such it may receive support from Act 60. SJCL is also recognized as a 501(c)(3) public charity for federal reporting purposes. We are the only lending library open to the general public in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and we also serve children, young adults and adults from all over our island.
A hallmark of SJCL is that it depends on volunteers and its part time executive director for its upkeep and day-today operations. SJCL also encourages corporate, community and individual participation. It has a Board of Directors, all of whom are professionally affiliated.
We are located in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and are housed in a building belonging to the BUCAPLAA Recreational Center. This building originally served as the community center for three urbanizations: Bucaré, Apolo, and Alto Apolo, hence the acronym BUCAPLAA.
The location of SJCL was identified by our charter board member and librarian Sylvia Olmos. Our dream of a lending library started on two folding tables and several metal chairs. A brief glance at our current main reading room reveals the long, successful road navigated by all our library’s executive directors, board members, members and volunteers. In 2001, we officially changed our name to the San Community Library at BUCAPLAA, Inc. For promotional purposes we became the San Juan Community Library in 2010.
Thanks to the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Rescue Plan and The Sharp Grant, we have received a $20,000 grant. This grant is administered in Puerto Rico by the Fundación Puertorriqueña de las Humanidades. The funds will assist us with operating expenses from January 2022 through December 2022, including salary and wages, insurance, and monthly air conditioning maintenance (critical for our public’s comfort and for keeping our hard copy collection in excellent condition).
We are also grateful to have been the recipient of a $10,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the CARES Act. This grant was administered by the Fundación Puertorriqueña de las Humanidades. The funds were for assistance with our operating expenses from November 2020 through May 2021, including the annual support fees for our digital branch.
Thanks so much to the Fundación Puertorriqueña de las Humanidades for their support. Their support has helped us to recover from the effects of COVID-19 over the past two years. This generous help aids our work to serve the children, young adults and adults who depend on our services.
Our Mission: San Juan Community Library is dedicated to promoting enthusiasm for reading, research, and cultural enrichment.
A message from our Executive Director:
San Juan Community Library will celebrate its 35th year of service in 2022. Life without a public library is unthinkable for those of us who support free access to the information available in books and computers. Everyone deserves a community library to count on and to call home.
We are the only lending library open to the public in the capital city of Puerto Rico. We serve a diverse population of children, young adults and adults. Our patrons and visitors come to us from San Juan, neighboring cities and from cities across our island. We are the only public library in San Juan offering a digital branch with over 6,000 e-books and audiobooks along with 45,000+ ebooks from the public domain.
Our public also counts on us for our hard copy bilingual lending collection of 32,000 titles, complimentary WiFi, internet access and computer software programs, classes, daily book sales, meeting and study spaces. In 2019 our combined circulation for hard copy and digital copies totaled nearly 15,000 titles. We expected this number to drop down in 2020, but instead we circulated nearly 11,000 titles during a pandemic year with a four-month lockdown. And then, we followed those strong numbers with stronger numbers in 2022, and circulated nearly 17,000 hardcopy and digital titles. All told, for the last three years we circulated a combined total of 42,323 hard copy and digital titles. That’s cause for great celebration!!
Our Library has faced head on storms over the years with our roof and natural storms including Irma and Maria. We met the Coronavirus with the courage and insight of our very able and dedicated volunteer staff. Each new storm brings us new challenges and helps to make us stronger, as the hard times have taught us that we are resilient and that we are a treasured and vital resource for our island.
We are also grateful for our new Arab-American Collection, additions to our AAUW Stand-up Women Collection, and additions to our Picture Book Summit Collection. All of our collections help to keep us strong and diversified.
Since our opening in October 1987, we have been housed in the former community center for Bucaré, Alto Apolo, and Apolo. A hallmark of our library is that we operate with a volunteer staff, a paid part time executive director and a board of directors. The center where we are located is part of the BUCAPLAA Recreational Park under the administration of San Juan Sports and Recreation. We are most grateful to the mayors of San Juan and directors of San Juan Sports and Recreation for their support over the years.
We invite our members, volunteers, and all our supporters to tell a friend about San Juan Community Library.
With your help, we will continue for years to come to be San Juan Community Library—your library.
San Juan Community Library
San Juan, Puerto Rico
March 5, 2022
From San Juan:
1. Take Highway 18 South to Highway 1 towards Caguas. Turn right at the first traffic light onto Apolo Avenue. The Library will be just ahead on your right. Parking for San Juan Community Library is at the park side of the building, turn right at the end of the wall and right again into the parking area.
2. Take Route 20, Martinez Nadal and exit at Calle Esmeralda (this is the exit after the one for Bayamon/Route 177). Turn left at the traffic light and continue down Calle Esmeralda through three lights. At the end of the road, turn left onto Alejandrino, at the next light turn right onto Avenida Apolo. The Library is at the other end of the street, on the left, just after Second Union Church. Turn left between the Church and the Library to enter the parking lot.
3. From Route 177, Bayamon: You can exit at Martinez Nadal, stay on the marginal road to Esmeralda and follow the directions above. Or continue on Route 177 through several traffic lights. Continue past Walgreens and the Total Station and through the next traffic light. Turn right at the next light -Sherwin Williams and Oriental Bank will be on your right. This is Avenida Alejandrino. Turn left at the first traffic light onto Avenida Apolo. The Library is at the other end of the street, on the left, just after Second Union Church. Turn between the Church and the Library to enter the parking area.
4. If you have already passed the Oriental Bank and the Sherwin Williams, take exit to Highway 1 Caguas on your right. Stay on the marginal road until the end, passing the Econo Supermarket, and then turn right onto Avenida Apolo. The Library will be just ahead on your right. Parking for San Juan Community Library is at the park side of the building, turn right at the end of the wall and right again into the parking area.
From Dorado and points West: Take Highway 22 to Highway 18 and follow directions #1 above; or, take Hwy 22 and continue through Buchanan Toll, take exit for Road 20, Martinez Nadal (second exit after toll) and follow directions #2 above.
Public transportation from Río Piedras: If you arrive at Río Piedras from the train, take the exit “A la Plaza,” and you will be across the street from where the bus will pick you up. Take the bus that says “Río Piedras-Caguas”. The cost is $1.75, and the bus driver can make change. The bus may make several loops through Río Piedras for more passengers before it leaves for Caguas.
The bus ride to the San Juan Community Library is approximately 10 -15 minutes. When you pass the Econo Supermarket on othe right, you know the NEXT stop is Parada 937, where you want to exit the bus. Proceed to the corner and turn to your right. The Library is at the next block, Avenida Apolo and Corner Topacio Street.
From Cupey Train Station: Take bus 31. On Route 1, after Econo Supermarket (on the right), get off at the next stop. Turn left and walk up the street. At the street light, turn right onto Apolo Avenue. The Library is at the next block, at the corner of Topacio Street.
Board of Directors
The 2022-2023 Board of Directors of San Juan Community Library are:
Claudio Reck - President
Abelardo Ruiz, Jr. - Vice President
Andrew Moore - Treasurer
Terms are held for one year and board members are elected at our annual Members’ meeting, held in November. Board meetings are online every other month on Thursdays at 1:30 pm. Input from members and community users is always invited, in written form one week prior to meetings. We welcome new board members who are committed to working for our library’s continued development as Puerto Rico’s leading lending library with a variety of activities.
The Executive Director of the Library is Connie Estades. Our excellent staff is composed of volunteers dedicated to community service and the continued growth of our library.
Volunteers may give their time in a variety of ways: data entry, cataloging, shelving books, computer assistance to patrons, technology support, check-in and out of materials, property maintenance, fundraising, and other vital functions. Call or email us if you would like to help.
San Juan Community Library would like to thank Richard Holm of Caribbean Consulting and library member/volunteer/webmaster María Viñas for their donation of time, talent, and dedication to the vital upkeep of our website. Gratitude also to library member Erika Rodriguez for her invaluable assistance.