ut a visit to the downtown library has become, on many days, a walk through a gantlet of misery: Homeless men and women sleep in the lawn while others plead with visitors for change. Inside the building, signs warned people to avoid restrooms where some homeless use sinks and even toilet water to bathe themselves and wash their clothes.
But Perez y Martina — which tells the tale of a romance between a cockroach and a mouse — isn't just any children's story. When it was published in 1932, it was the first Spanish language book for children published by a mainstream U.S. press. And its author, Pura Belpré, was the first Puerto Rican librarian in New York's public library system at a time when the city's Puerto Rican population was swelling. Belpré could not find any books for kids in Spanish — so she wrote them herself.
"In the early to mid twentieth century, the majority of the city’s libraries had live-in superintendents. Like the superintendents who still live in many of the city’s residential buildings, these caretakers both worked and lived in the buildings for which they were responsible.