The Community Library, 18th Street. A labor of love library in Sao Goncalo, Brazil.
The house has been christened, as the big, hand-painted sign on the roof proudly announces, the Community Library, 18th Street. On busy afternoons, it’s standing room only. Patrons vie for one of the mismatched chairs, which scrape along a floor lined with discarded tiles that Leite and his friends scrounged….
Brazilians are handicapped by lack of access. Government officials say that nearly 1,000 of the country’s 5,500 municipalities have no public library. Buying a book is even less of an option….
A study in 2001 estimated that 16% of the population owns nearly 75% of all the books in Brazil — hardly surprising considering that a standard paperback routinely sells for about $15, or one-eighth of the minimum monthly salary.
Moreover, illiteracy remains high; 16 million Brazilians older than 15 cannot read or write.