It has been a year since the world discovered that a virus was spreading at an incredible pace and since then the world has been struggling to adapt to new living and working conditions.
We, at the Biblioteca Publica de San Miguel de Allende, were busy planning new activities in our classrooms, new shows at our recently renovated theatre, new platforms for our media components, new construction to add badly needed space for our students and library members and new programs for our scholarship students. Well, some of the plans were postponed and others moved up the priority list during these past few months of forced closing and reduced activities but we discovered what a formidable team we have constituted over the years.
Under the leadership of our Executive Director, Miguel Angel Barquet, assisted by Leticia Rodriguez, our HR Manager, the whole staff worked out a schedule to take care of our facilities while respecting all the sanitary measures recommended by the authorities. The Theatre’s renovation work was completed, class and meeting rooms were cleaned and painted, administrative archives and the book collection were organized, and the employees received continuous training on how to protect themselves and prevent the spread of the virus in our building and in our community.
Thanks to legacy donations that reached us fortuitously just before the crisis hit, we were able keep all our staff and even fill some positions we had budgeted for. At the same time, we did what we usually do to prepare for a new year except the last one was anything but ordinary so our projected budget is based on hard facts and realistic projections.
Our institution, as well as other NGOs in our town and around the country, had to confront the consequences of the pandemic and its impact on all sectors of the economy as well as adjust to the new tax laws that came into effect on January 1,2021. In a very succinct summary: any income generated by social enterprises within an association must not go beyond 50% of total income; otherwise the association loses its status as a not-for-profit organization and could even be forced to close its doors.
The Biblioteca Publica has always strived to reach a level of financial equilibrium whereas income from our various activities would pay for our overhead while donations would go directly to finance our educational programs .The activities in question (Café Santa Ana , Atencion newspaper , Teatro Santa Ana, Tesoros , and the House & Garden Tour ) are all managed by library staff and all profits go directly to the library and that is why we describe them as “social enterprises”, a term used widely by NGOs around the world.
Nevertheless, we have asked a number of consulting firms for proposals on how to adapt to the new rules and two of them have supplied us with opinions and recommendations. A number of measures will be taken (some are already in practice) in the next few months that will allow the library to continue its mission without interruption and, hopefully, with as minor an impact on our operations as possible.
While we are hopeful that we have the adequate solutions on hand, we are also very realistic that we need to replace some income loss by a more organized approach to fundraising within our community and with private and public organizations. Marie Mobius was hired last September to spearhead our fundraising department and has already shown promising results.
We are hopeful because we invited a new category of people to join our board and our staff: young, energetic, creative and devoted to the mission and goals of the Biblioteca.
We are hopeful because the crisis has helped us revise our use of space, our programs, our media platforms, our fundraising plans, and our community outreach tools.
We are also hopeful because we know we live in a community that feels the need to help those in need of support and understands the importance of health, education, housing, and training in economic and social development.
San Miguel de Allende is proud of the work the many NGOs have been doing in our community and La Biblioteca is proud to have been part of the effort during the last 65 years and intends to continue serving the sons and daughters, even grandchildren, of those it has helped achieve their goals in the past.