Santa Ana’s Libro Mobile is making moves

by AryanArtnews
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LibroMobile Arts Cooperative has been a staple of Santa Ana since it opened in 2016.

Artist, educator, curator and writer Sarah Raphael Garcia opened a bookstore in response to the closure of another iconic Santa Ana bookstore, Libreria Martínez, founded by Chicano activist Rueben Martinez.

“We are working hard to be an indie bookstore and a mobile bookstore,” Garcia said.

LibroMobile is a literary cooperative and bookstore that builds communities and improves literacy rates by offering books and free art programming. The mission of the hybrid nonprofit is to prioritize blacks, indigenous peoples and people of color and to foster diversity through literature and art by integrating free reading and writing programs, visual exhibits and more.

Sarala Fael Garcia will place the book at the location of Santa Ana’s new LibroMobile bookstore.

(Don Reach / Staff Photographer)

LibroMobile lives in a small warehouse in the alley of 4th Avenue and Spurgeon Street. That is, until Saturday.

The shop will close from January 2nd to January 7th and will move to a new location on 1150 S. Bristol Street # A3 in Santa Anna near Bristol Swap Meet.

Since its inception, bookstores have existed in many places.

“We got a wheelbarrow and then went up the stairs from the wheelbarrow,” Garcia said. “We literally rented a staircase that pops up on 4th Avenue. We entered the warehouse through the stairs and have been in the warehouse since 2018.”

However, running a bookstore from a small warehouse space of 190 square feet was not easy, and a pandemic also made the business difficult.

LibroMobile resumed in June after suffering a blockade. “We were very excited to get over the pandemic as a small business,” Garcia said.

Garcia planned a major reopening, including the signature of a book by a local writer, but an outdoor event on Fourth Avenue forced the event to move to Orange Bookman.

“This has become an ongoing issue,” Garcia said. “It became a problem again while reading the poet laureate.”

Two outdoor festival events were held in downtown Santa Ana during a reading event by Dr. Natalie J. Graham and Tina Mai, the first poet laureate in Orange County.

“We were completely drowned, which was very disappointing to me because it was the year of our first OC poet winner,” Garcia said. “This was the first poet laureate the county had ever experienced, and we cast a shadow over these two festivals.”

Marilynn Montano places books on the shelves of Santa Ana's new LibroMobile bookstore.

Marilynn Montano places books on the shelves of Santa Ana’s new LibroMobile bookstore.

(Don Reach / Staff Photographer)

Garcia has been talking to members of the city council and looking for ways to stay on top of local events.

“Since then, there have been fewer events happening in Bush on the 3rd, but they continue to happen around us,” Garcia said.

She said her experience was frustrating, but it also emphasized the work Libro Mobile does.

“For me, it reminds me of why we exist in the first place,” Garcia said. “Because we can’t no There is a bookstore. “

Fortunately, Garcia has a deep connection with her community.

Garcia has created a book installation at the Bristol Swap Mall food court in collaboration with the Santa Ana youth organization Dynamite Book Club, which started as a non-profit organization in a small library in response to COVID-19.

“One day when I was complaining about everything that was happening, they asked if I was interested in moving there,” Garcia said.

Initially, Garcia stated that she wanted to extend Libro Mobile to two locations.

“The goal was not to close the downtown location, but to expand it, because we feel we still need to be there,” Garcia said. “We need to counter this idea of ​​consumption and literature.”

It is also scary to leave the house where he has spent a lot of time cultivating.

“Warehouses have become a staple of downtown Santa Anna,” Garcia said. “We are always providing free books to the community. We are always looking for ways to collaborate with graffiti artists in the alleys to promote collaboration and criminalization, so we get regular customers. It was a long process of not only doing but also gaining respect and support from everyone. “

In the end, Garcia decided to put all her efforts in a bigger place.

“The new bookstore will definitely be suitable for people,” Garcia said. “Our community deserves to have a nice bookstore that looks like them, sounds like them, and feels like them.”

Garcia is now looking forward to working on creating a new space and has helped two local artists.

“I was fortunate enough to be familiar with Jose Rosano’s art and Carla Zarate,” Garcia said.

Garcia has worked with Rosano and Zarate to create a space that can be described as a bookstore gallery.

“So when people come in, it’s more than a bookstore. It’s a carefully selected literary experience. The walls are adorned with Rosano art. The long corridors are adorned with Santana’s fairy tale art by Carla Zarate. increase.”

According to Garcia, there are plans for a digital archive room, and there are plans to start archiving for and by the community from the community.

“And the time will be longer. We are open six days a week,” says Garcia.

Garcia also has big plans for the 2022 Libro Mobile. A literary festival celebrating the 4th anniversary of the bookstore is planned at the Santa Ana Heritage Museum on January 15, and Garcia said the proper grand opening of the new location will continue.

“We are starting slowly and steadily,” Garcia said. “We hope to have a grand opening in late February or early March.”

Garcia said the move was emotional, but he knew that Libro Mobile was heading in the right direction.

“One of the reasons I’m particularly excited about moving to Bristol Swap Mall Plaza is because I’m deeply involved in the community I want to serve.”

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