About Us

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New visitors to the OLL frequently are amazed at the quality and depth of the Collection. It is remarkable in its breadth, maintaining a balance between popular tastes and classic holdings.

 The "Lending" part of our name is significant, because lending libraries are not common in Mexico. The OLL is a lending Library for its members.


The OLL has evolved into a Library that it is more than a collection of materials. It also has become a community center, educational events hub, and outreach point to the Oaxacan community. 

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The Oaxaca Lending Library (OLL) at its heart is a Library with a collection of books, periodicals, audio and video offerings.  The Collection owes its existence to donations from members, friends, and other organizations. Some of the Collection has been purchased, and in recent years, more resources have been allocated for purchases, but donations continue to be the primary way of sustaining and developing the Collection.


   The OLL partners with local Mexican organizations, such as schools, providing free memberships to their English teachers and students.

   It contributes to the community by publicizing other NGO organizations in its newsletter and website, in addition to offering materials in Spanish and English.

·   It serves as a community center for networking and making new friends for visitors, ex-pat residents and Oaxaqueños.

   The OLL has offered an annual networking event for local NGOs and hopes to resume this when feasible. This event has resulted in donations and volunteers for these NGOs.

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The OLL is essentially a volunteer organization. There are a few part time employees, but the governance and day-to-day operations would be impossible without the cadre of volunteers.

The History of the OLL

The OLL was founded in 1966 by English-speaking foreign nationals for their own benefit but has always maintained an outreach to the greater Oaxaca community in a variety of ways. 

It could be assumed that because the library was the creation of a group of American/Canadian expats of some age it wasn’t celebrated with the usual Mexican fanfare which usually included fireworks, parades with bands, dancing monos and probably some mescal.

In November, 2000 the OLL Constitution was drafted and accepted by the Mexican government, becoming a legal not-for profit organization in Mexico.

The OLL has been in continuous existence since its founding more than 50 years ago.


5th Anniversary Reunion 1971

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The City of Oaxaca, Mexico gave birth to a new institution on June 19, 1966: the Oaxaca Lending Library (OLL), at Hotel Plaza (Trujano 112). It must be assumed the opening was not in a traditional Oaxacan way with bands, fireworks, dancing, drinking, priestly blessings, giant beings, and so on. This can be said with some confidence, as the Library was the c reat io n of a group American/Canadian expats of some age, not likely to carry on much. In the written record, it just says the doors opened on June 19, 1966, and mentions little fanfare whatever. Regardless, 50 years later this institution carries on uninterrupted. What follows is a bit of history of this remarkable Oaxaca institution.


The impetus for the creation of the Library came from the bequest of Benjamin Crowell of 600 books in English.  His sister Mrs. James G. Gruener of Cleveland managed the bequest on behalf of Mr. Cowell. In addition, the Cultural Attaché from the US Embassy in Mexico City, Dr. John L. Brown, brought a number of books in Spanish to the Library. Also, the US Embassy Library, the Benjamin Franklin Library, sent a Miss Lage, one of their professional librarians, to teach the OLL volunteers how to accession books according to the venerable Dewey Decimal System. As of March, 1967, the Library had 2,000 books, 7 Life Members (250 pesos), 67 Regular Members (25 pesos), and 7 Teacher Members (10 pesos)

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