Bainbridge Ometepe Sister Islands

Building Friendships since 1986


Building a love for reading

Pull library

Members of the 2010 Library Delegation visit the new library at the school in Pull.

Students on Bainbridge and Ometepe relate to school books very differently. On Bainbridge, students grumble about the weight of the textbooks they carry home each day. On Ometepe, many students just wish they had a book. So for many years, the Sister Islands Association has worked with schools on Ometepe to start and equip school libraries.

When the committee started more than 10 years ago, there were only two libraries. Now, among the 39 schools on Ometepe, 24 have libraries,  and 11 of them are staffed by librarians.

First library delegation

In 2010, connections between our Library and Educational Materials Committee and school librarians on Ometepe deepened through the first Library Delegation from Bainbridge to Ometepe. One main focus of the trip was facilitating library workshops in Altagracia, Balgue and Moyogalpa primary schools. The goal was to bring librarians and teachers from around the island together to share their experiences and learn from each other—and for the Bainbridge group  to learn more about needs on Ometepe, assess the value of the committee’s work over the years, and make contact with other non-governmental organizations working in this area on Ometepe.

Librarians at workshop

Workshops during the 2010 Library Delegation gave school librarians on Ometepe a chance to exchange tips with each other.

Thirty-eight of the thirty-nine schools sent one or more representatives to the workshops; there were 67 attendees in all, including five presenters from three school libraries on Ometepe: Mercedes Lorío Monge from Altagracia (Ruben Dario), Mirta Centeno and Ileana Carrillo from Balgüe Primaria, Lea Seneida Martinez from San Jose del Sur, and Darling Potoy Rosales from the high school in Altagracia (Ladislao Chwalbinsky). In addition, an invitation was extended to two independent projects, the Nuestra Piqueños Hermanos (an orphanage near Los Angeles) and Proyecto Mano Amigo (in Balgüe).

2014 delegation

Group gathered around Dora.

The library committee met with Dora Guitierrez Trana, manager of the office on Ometepe, when she was on Bainbridge with ta health delegation in spring 2014.

The library committee returned to Ometepe in 2014, after receiving a $7,000 grant from the PaperSeed Foundation, a California non-profit started by CellMark, a company that provides supply chain services to the paper, metals and chemical industries. The grant provided money to  create a model school library at the K-12 school in San Jose del Sur and materials for a workshop where librarians from other schools could learn how to set up similar libraries at their schools. Representatives of 15 schools and the Mano Amigo program in Balgüe attended.

Group standing before building with sign that says Biblioteca Islas Hermanas

Workshop participants gather in front of the new school library in San Jose del Sur.


Typical requests

Each year, schools on Ometepe can request grants from the library committee for up to $250 in books, maps, whiteboards, DVD players and even cabinets to keep books safe from rodents, bugs and dust. Although some of the grants are funded through general Sister Islands money, including profits from coffee sales, the committee also has been lucky to receive very generous donations from The Traveler, a bookstore and travel-gear company on Bainbridge. Since the store opened in 1995, owners Barbara Tolliver and Susan Taylor have donated 5 percent of December gross profit to our library programs each year. In 2014, proceeds from calendars made and sold by Ordway third-graders paid for books delivered to six schools on Ometepe.

How to get involved

Susan Bisnett heads this committee. If you would like to become involved, please email using this form.

The Library Committee welcomes donations of picture books for young readers on Ometepe. School libraries on Ometepe especially appreciate books written in Spanish, even though it’s possible for children there to read books written in English. (Bainbridge high school students write in translations before the books are distributed.) If you would like to donate books, please download the list of recommended books.

The books are available through Eagle Harbor Books on Bainbridge. If you purchase books to donate, please contact Susan Bisnett to arrange for them to be taken to Ometepe.

Library in La Flor

The library in La Flor has both open shelves and glass cabinets, which protect books better on humid or dusty days. The Sister Islands Association helps buy cabinets for school libraries, as well as books to fill the shelves.