Akumal Library – Hekab Be Biblioteca

Akumal’s inspirational one room library
and literacy center needs your help!

Listed below are directions, hours, and an updated “wish list” of needed items. Scroll down to read the latest library news and see how YOU can help. The Hekab Be Biblioteca is a grass roots library, literacy and learning center in Akumal. It is the driving force behind a “reading revolution” in a region with poorly funded and overcrowded public schools and an adult literacy rate of only about 50%.

Rural public schools in Mexico usually have textbooks, desks, and a chalkboard. That’s about it. No storybooks, no maps or charts for the walls, no art supplies, no band, no computer, no special help for slow learners or gifted children, no “extras” at all unless donated by the community.

In that environment, Hekab Be Biblioteca is a beacon of light, a center for learning and hope. It is the only source of children’s books in the area and offers a wide variety of reading programs. Reading well may enable a worker to move from a job earning about $6 per day (yes, per day!) to a job that provides more than just basic shelter and food.

Library Staff: Carlos Pech is a bright young Mayan man who is the full-time librarian. He speaks Spanish, Mayan, and conversational English. Carlos has been pretty stressed lately, due to some personal concerns but mostly due to his worries about the financial future of the library. He is patient and caring with the children, and they respond with an outpouring of affection for him. At last summer’s party, I saw the children applaud him wildly and chant “Car–los, Carl-los, Car-los.” Even when he has his own worries, just ask him about working with the kids, and you will see his face light up with a great big smile!

Emelia May works part time and is very proud of the library and its accomplishments. Her own children are 5 and 2, so she knows many young mothers in the pueblo. She teaches the youngest children their letters and reads them stories. Lately, she has been very successful in doing outreach to other young mothers.

Brenda Detering was the library’s inspirational organizer and director. After 10 years in Akumal, she and her family returned to her hometown of Portland, Oregon. Brenda remains committed to the library and regularly communicates with Carlos to help him in any way she can.


1. Money to fund basic expenses (see below on how to help).

2. Library supplies, such as scotch transparent tape, Ezerace markers to use on a whiteboard, printer cartridges for HP deskjet printer 840C (color #17, black #15), and Panasonic Fax Toner PFQT1538ZA

3. Basic school supplies and little prizes that the children “earn” in the reading incentive program, such as matchbox cars, hair clips and barrettes, little happy meal type toys, mechanical pencils, notebooks, colored pencils, coloring books, school glue, etc. The library has a good supply now thanks to our helpers over the holidays (muchas gracias!) but will need more in a few months.

4. Anyone have a used (but not too ancient) computer that they are willing to tote down?

The library is still struggling financially. The library only has enough money to cover expenses for 2 months. Carlos and I are always wondering if there will be enough money to pay his salary and the phone bill. So far the library has not missed a payday, but it has been close. Won’t you help?

You can give a donation (pesos, dollars or a U.S. check) when you visit the library. Make out the check to “Hekab Be Biblioteca, A.C.”


DIRECTIONS — how to find the library:

You can drop off donations any time the library is open, Mon-Fri. 9-1, 2:30-6:30 and Saturday 9-1. The library is located in Akumal Playa on the same road that leads to the tourist areas of Akumal Bay, Hal Moon Bay and Yalkul Lagoon. Go south from Playa del Carmen about 20-30 minutes. Turn left at the sign that says “Akumal Playa.” In 2-3 minutes, on the left side, there is a big blue sign that says Hekab Be Bilioteca. That’s it! If you get to the little super Chomak store or the arch, you went too far.


Please do NOT ship supplies. The tax to the recipient can be greater than the cost of the items. There is NO problem bringing supplies down in your suitcase. Better yet, bring a whole suitcase with these goodies. Many visitors bring books, toys and school supplies, with no customs or tax problems.

Money is the greatest need, but supplies and reading incentives are needed also.

Reading incentive prizes for the kids:

Little toys: matchbox cars, little figures like dinosaurs, monsters, super-heroes and dolls, legos, whistles, fast food happy meal prizes, etc.
Hair ornaments
Stickers – they love these!
Little stuffed animals
Mechanical pencils
Lead for mechanical pencils
Notebooks of all kinds
School glue
Coloring books
Inexpensive beach toys and inflatable rafts (bring them for your kids, and then donate them to the local kids)
Balls of all types
Inexpensive plastic watches
Pocket folders
Geometry sets with a compass and protractor
Calculators, very inexpensive ones that run on solar cells
Individual pencil sharpeners
Paints and brushes for art projects (all types but tempra the best)
Scotch tape, masking tape, duct tape

Please NO broken toys, NO big toys (no room in crowded houses), and NO toys that need batteries (no money to replace batteries)

The library also could use:

Guides to fish, birds, animals, and plants of the region (Spanish preferred)
Easy – to – read magazines in Spanish
Basic info in Spanish on public health issues (sometimes free for medical folks)

Children’s books in Spanish(used books ok, please NO English books): If the Akumal library has extras of the books you donate, they will go to other little libraries. Your donations help spread the reading revolution in this region.

Panasonic Fax Toner PFQT1538ZA
Printer cartridges for Lexmark printer 840C
Printer paper
Transparent contact paper
Colored tissue paper (for craft projects)
Lined notebook paper
Construction paper
Scotch tape
Markers – Ezerace and regular
Paints and paintbrushes for art projects
Balls – any kind, but especially basketball and soccer

Gently used clothing (modest spring/summer clothing) will be recycled many times. The library gives clothing to the poorest families and sells the rest for a minimal cost of 3 or 4 pesos each. This helps the locals, and provides a small income for the library.

I know that this list seems long, but if we don’t bring it, they don’t have it. It is just as simple as that. The library’s friends have made a tremendous difference in just the last three years. The improvements are simply amazing.