Merida English Language Library

‘Want a good beach book? Do you have a question that has you stymied or has your computer fizzled out and you need to check your email… There’s a one-stop place in Merida where all this can be taken care of…

The Merida English Language Library (MELL) is the international community’s “Command Central.” Modeled after the traditional neighborhood libraries, it’s where many newcomers to Merida meet their first friends, and those who have been here for a while are able to keep up with what’s going on in our community. It has an informal and relaxed atmosphere, very much in keeping with the tempo of the city we live in.

MELL has a collection of 17,000 volumes, ranging from bestselling novels to research tomes on Maya History. The      reading room and the internet are two well-used services at the library.  Newspapers and magazines, DVDs and audio books are some of the other story formats MELL provides.

Once a month, the volunteers host “MELLO Nights,” a cash bar cocktail party where many of us have begun excellent friendships. Several English-language AA meetings are held at the library each week. Other groups such as very popular Book Group and the newly formed Writers’ Circle also use the library as their meeting place.

Talks by special speakers are featured on Saturday mornings, and the MELL sponsored weekly home tours are popular with tourists and locals alike.

The Library is staffed by dedicated volunteers and supported by low annual membership dues. Fund raising events like the Chili Cook Off are held to raise funds. It takes a lot of selfless effort to keep the library afloat… and sometimes even that is not enough.

All individuals and organizations are targets for foul play, and apparently, MELL has been victimized by an opportunist.  Library Operations Committee member Lorna Gail Dalin has offered to be on hand every Friday morning to speak with concerned members about this.

Yes, our library is in a jam. It seems there is no longer the cash reserve that was thought to exist. All concerned are working hard to resolve the predicament. It is in our best interest to not lend ourselves to rumor or hearsay.

MELL needs an influx of money to carry on and to do the upgrading and improvements it has planned. It seems to me that bemoaning our fate is not the solution – pulling ourselves up by the bootstraps (or sandal straps) is the more effective move. The season of giving is right around the corner.  At this time of year, many organizations appeal to their friends for donations.  Lorna Gail tells me that if every member could find it in their hearts to give 500 pesos, the problem would be resolved…  Jorge and I will be taking our contribution over to MELL, and I hope there will be many others who do likewise.


Filed under Vida Latina

23 responses to “Merida English Language Library

  1. Peter Clain

    I am an avid supporter of MELL & am grateful for its existence when I am in Mérida. I am not aware of the entire unfortunate situation, nor do I want to know the details. My greatest concern is the continuation of the library & all it offers to the ex pat community. I am most willing to make an extra donation this year when I return in January if it will indeed help perpetuate our wonderful library!

  2. After all, it’s not like a Savings and Loan Scandal or someone absconding with our pensions or life savings. Those victims had no recourse and were understandably distraught. Sure, we may feel betrayed but we are not victims. In the previous comment Patricia wrote, “The MELL is who we are; a foreign community largely composed of open, generous, contemplative, literate, and involved people. Let’s all live up to Patricia’s description if us. Let us act on the “can do” attitude of our North American culture. If we each donated at least 500 pesos, the results would be amazing. We all treasure the positive culture of our Mexican friends and neighbors. Now, let’s show them who we are.

  3. Patricia Mathisen

    Dear Joanna,

    Thank you again for being so balanced and fair. I think your post regarding the ease of solving the issue with money is most apt. The person who did whatever he did isn’t so lucky, but we are. The MEL is who we are; a foreign community largely composed of open, generous, contemplative, literate, and involved people. We’ll come together and keep our library, our outreach to our magnificent hosts in this country, and our sense of community intact. This incident will be forgotten soon, but we will have learned from it.

    I hope for eventual peace and growth with regard to the “offender,” of course, but I’m also ticked and hurt that such a thing could have happened. I guess I have a trace of wanting this to be the most emotionally painful event in his life, but the truth is that we’re still here in paradise, living our magnificent lives and having so very much to be thankful for. We’d be so very stupid not to just move on and busy ourselves with getting ourLibrary back in order.

  4. Thanks, Joanna and Mitch–It IS important that we all try to understand why people, even our “offenders”, do such things. I sure do sympathize , and wish you all of you at MELL well.

  5. Larry

    Thank you , once again, Joanna for being a beacon of reason and forgiveness, and for reminding us to always take the “high road” and move forward. MELL needs our ongoing support and participation, not criticism. Your point is well written and I am sure many, many community members will respond to your call for support.

    • Thanks Larry I think it’s really important to “pull together” and do what we can.

      • Thank you Patricia, you’re right, a part of us wants retribution, another conflicting part can’t help feeling a measure of pity… but the bottom line is we need to get back into healthy financial shape, and with everyone’s help, this should not be so difficult to acheive

  6. Dear Joanna,

    Thank you. Writing as a member of the volunteer MELL board, a 15-year resident and business person in Merida, it is difficult to put into proper terms how very difficult, sad, irritating, perplexing, anguishing, frustrating, infuriating, exhausting and continually challenging the current situation is at MELL concerning the abuse of trust.

    If you have ever felt betrayed by someone you trusted, then maybe you know the sense of hurt and anger you feel towards that betrayal. But if, also, you cannot help yourself but to also feel sad for that person – that person you liked, trusted and had befriended… That friend that did something so incredibly stupid, dishonest and ignorant…

    And knowing that person had also done many good things.
    Knowing they are still a good husband or wife or parent.
    Knowing they have done much to help others and the library.
    Knowing they have done many good things that you cannot – do not want to remember or even want to know anymore.

    Because it is too difficult to forgive them for the grief their actions are causing you and other people you care about. It is my own fault for trusting and it prays upon me that my trusting and the resulting betrayal of that trust is not mine alone to bear. It would be so much easier if it was.

    Unfortunately, that is not the case. Every member, volunteer, friend, associate and board member was betrayed.

    And, in no small part it was my fault.

    I can live with the finger pointing, blame, negative words, nasty emails, snarky remarks, evil looks and unpleasantness that will come my way. After a 10-year career as a flight attendant and 20-years and a real estate broker, I’ve got pretty thick skin.

    If I am pleased about any one thing it is that I know the situation will be resolved.
    This too shall pass.

    And it is my sincere hope that I will be able to forgive the betrayal and all the grief it has caused. I don’t want to carry the burden of an unforgivable grudge. Life is too short.



  7. Nancy Walters

    Our library is such a special place, one of the most peaceful I know. Its contribution to the community is priceless so if a donation is in order I will be honored to do my share.

  8. Thanks so much for this info, Joanna. I was a bit alarmed when I read the latest MEL email, but now know there’s something I can do.

  9. I am a big reader. There are days when I can devour 2 or 3 books. The Merida english library was one of the deciding factors when we made our final decision on where to live. CQ will be in Merida the second week of December. I will have him bring over our donation and renew our yearly subscription. We need the library, it is such a wonderful resource for both the expat community as well as the Mexican community.

  10. Alberto's friend

    Thank your balanced and thoughtful comments about Merida English Library

  11. Sounds like the Library is doing everything they can to recup the loss. The good thing is we still have our beloved library and all that is needed is some extra cash.Thanks Joanna for pointing out what we can do to help. I’m going there right now with my money in hand.

    • In Mexico there is a saying, “A problem that can be solved with money is the easiest one to solve,” It is not a flip statement but rather it makes us reflect on what’s important… If someone is hurt or dies, there’s no going back. But generpous people will always donate to a good cause and I can see they are already coming forward to turn this negative into a positive.

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