After Losing Its Bookstore, Laredo Tries to Write the Next Chapter

BY Tom LeGro  February 18, 2010 at 4:42 PM EST

The last bookstore in Laredo, Texas, closed its doors for good one month ago this week. This bilingual and bicultural border town in Webb County, long challenged by high illiteracy rates, is now adjusting to its new reality.

Soon after Barnes & Noble announced it was shuttering the city’s B. Dalton Bookseller on Jan. 16, Laredoans launched a literacy campaign called Laredo Reads, held rallies in classrooms and at city council meetings, and wrote letters to company executives. Their efforts were meant to try to keep the store open, as well as entice another bookstore.

None of it worked. Since last month, Laredo is the largest city in America without a bookstore; its 250,000 residents must travel more than 150 miles to find one.

Schools, libraries and many residents are moving on, trying to assess how the void will impact literacy and language development, in both English and Spanish. As part of our Patchwork Nation project, we recently visited Laredo and talked to community and city leaders about their response.

 

Editor’s Note: This video is part of Patchwork Nation, which is a collaboration between the Christian Science Monitor, the PBS NewsHour and local public media stations. Laredo falls under the Immigration Nation community in Patchwork Nation.