On April 13, 1942, General Manuel Ávila Comacho, President of the Republic of Mexico, spoke at the formal dedication of the Biblioteca Benjamin Franklin in Mexico City. The dedication of the library, made possible by a grant from the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs to the American Library Association, was attended by Mexican officials, American embassy staff, and Mexicans and Americans active in the library organization. Presentations and receptions occurred throughout the week for library organizers and contributors, university representatives, and the public.
At a time when the world was at war, this collaboration between the United States and Mexico provided brief relief from perpetual bleak news. As President Comacho proclaimed, “Because of its high purpose and modern technical organization, because the desire for intellectual cooperation which inspired its initiation, as well as because of the illustrious name which it bears, in remembrance of one of the most celebrated figures of the New World, the library which we are inaugurating today is valuable testimony of the friendship which binds the peoples of Mexico and the United States of America.”
The library, housed in a fine residence near the heart of the city, was remodeled by Carlos Contreras, one of Mexico’s most distinguished architects. Beginning with a staff of seven–all Spanish speaking–and overseen by a board of nine directors, this venture between neighboring countries became a resounding success. The Biblioteca Benjamin Franklin is a thriving public library for the people of Mexico City, having recently celebrated its 70th anniversary.
Comacho, Manual Avila. “A Testimony of Friendship.” American Library Association Bulletin, 36 (1942): 311-12.
Lyndenberg, Harry Miller. “Why A North American Library in Mexico?” American Library Association Bulletin, 36 (1942): P-7.
Milam, Carl H. “The Benjamin Franklin Library Dedication.” American Library Association Bulletin, 36 (1942): 312-14.